Update: Nicolas Batum confirms that he was the player behind the "We Don't Lose to Spanish Players" quote, and discussed it with Comcast SportsNet's Dwight Jaynes:
John Canzano of the Oregonian wrote a lengthy article today suggesting that Damian Lillard's poor performance in Game 1 of the playoffs deserved scrutiny, not a free pass. The most interesting part of the piece was not Canzano's analysis of Lillard's performance, but his quotes from a motivational placard in Portland's locker room. This paragraph details the strangest:
That middle section included such oddities as, "We don't lose to Spanish players," and "Nobody can beat us eight times in one year." Also, it includes a vow to, "Win the dog fight," and, "We will play as a team and outwork Memphis each and every night." Also, "We are better when we come to play," and a promise to be, "(Expletives) on defense."
We don't lose to Spanish players?
I'm not sure what the intent was there, but the effect ranges from odd to uncomfortable. The Blazers have a long history of drafting/signing Spanish players, going back to Fernando Martin in 1986. More recently Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, and Victor Claver have graced Portland's roster. Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol is Spanish, of course, and likely the target of the sentiment...though it's ironic because Gasol has done well against the Blazers this year and Portland hasn't won against Memphis yet.
Here's a video of Coach Stotts responding, saying basically that the statement was meant to be humorous.
I'm not sure what to make of this, other than it feels vaguely weird. It also feels vaguely weird to have people reporting on motivational bulletin boards, though that's a long-accepted practice in sports media.
Bottom line, the Blazers lost to a Spanish player. And while they haven't lost 8 times in one year to Memphis yet, they've made it to 5. They lost the dog fight on Sunday, didn't outwork the Grizzlies, didn't come to play, and were less "(Expletives) on defense" than "(Expletive)-y on defense". Maybe they need to get some new motivational phrases, because that set didn't work.
I do know for sure that if the Grizzlies had said something similar about a Portland player, there would be signs all over the Moda Center mocking the statement, probably in Spanish. Let's see if Memphis gets that creative.
What do you make of this? Let us know in the comments.