An Open Letter to Mr. Rich Cho and Mr. Paul Allen Regarding Rudy Fernandez
It took me a while to find out what I enjoyed doing in life. I’ve thought that I knew. When I was 18, I thought I knew. I was wrong. When I was 21 I thought I knew. I was wrong again. And it was then that I realized that to get what I wanted, it was going to take some work. So I went to college, met my wife, got married and entered the glorious world of printing.
Okay, it wasn’t glorious. But I was looking for something to major in at school and found the Graphic Arts Technology program (since cut) at Mt. Hood Community College. It was there that I learned everything about the world of printing, from Graphic Design all the way through to finished and bound product. It was fascinating, and the two year technical program went by too quickly. By the end of it, I knew the technical details involved in Graphic Design (though not the art of designing), how to prep files for output onto film, which then in turn were etched into plates (not having enough money to have a digital platemaker), how to set up and run a printing press, making all the ink, water, and paper adjustments as needed for various environments, how to bind books, run all manner of bindery equipment, and put out a product from inception to completion.
I loved printing. I loved the creativity, the perfectionism necessary, the exercise of skill, and being able to say, "I made that, all on my own." This was my dream job. This was what I wanted. So, newly married, and armed with this skillset, I entered the world of printing. And do you know what it got me? A job at the end of a press, stacking paper, 12 hours a day, sometimes up to 6 days a week.
At first, it was okay. I knew I would have to pay my dues. Have to work up in line. I had to show my stuff in order to get the next higher position. But as the hours dragged on, and the days dragged on, I realized that the next position up wasn’t going to come any time soon. And even if it did, I wasn’t sure I wanted it anymore. I was bored at my job. The people above me were bored at their jobs. And to go any higher involved taking a lot of pressure for things beyond human control.
The only thing I longed for was home. To be home was the only thing that brought me any joy. To be home was the only thing that made life worth living. This was the best paying job I’d ever had. If I’d have stuck with it, it could have been the highest paying job I will have ever had the opportunity to have. But it wasn’t hard to give it up.
You see, that was the job which killed my dream. Reality set in, and the dream was dead. It was a wake up call to me. A call to what was really important. A call that I had been running from since I was a child. Because through all of this, I was being prepared to be called as a pastor. A job where my home and family are just as important as anything else I do.
I see myself in Rudy Fernandez. A young man who thought he knew what his dream job was. A man who thoroughly enjoys the game of basketball. A man who prepared his entire life to come to the NBA.
But dreams and reality don’t always come together in the way we imagine they should. And perhaps the dream remains better as a dream. Because everyone knows that dreams always crumble under the weight of reality. Everyone has had a dream that they have lost. Everyone misses what might have been.
And so, when the dreams drift away, what are we left with? Only grasping at the happiest reality we can find. And so often, that reality is home. I wish I could say always, for not all homes are happy. But home, in general, is the place most of us would love to be the most, especially when we’ve been hurt by the crushing weight of reality.
I have read a lot of comments from people who say that Rudy should just suck it up. Deal with reality. Stop whining about something he can’t change. And I suppose there’s a lot of merit to that. You have to play the cards you’re dealt in life. But part of that is knowing when to fold. When to say, "I cannot do this."
For me, that time was when I realized I was not going to be happy working in printing, despite how much I loved it. For Rudy, it was when he realized that he was not going to be happy in the NBA, despite how much he loves basketball.
And so, Mr. Cho and Mr. Allen, I’m asking you to please release Rudy Fernandez from his contract.
I ask, knowing the risks. Knowing that some other team may scoop him up. Knowing that this all might be a ploy in order to make Rudy more money. Knowing that this is letting a valuable asset go for nothing. Knowing that this might set a dangerous precedent for the future. Knowing that all of Portland has had their hearts broken by Rudy giving up his dream, and that holding his contract is the only way to have our revenge. Knowing that there may be factors that are completely unknown to me.
But I ask as one who has also lived a life of shattered dreams. And a life of rekindled hopes. Please give Rudy a rekindled hope of being home, and doing what he loves. And because he is a Trail Blazer, I care about him. I care enough to put my own name to this request.