Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez began his NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers in 2006. He provided energy off the bench for three seasons, developing what was affectionately known as "the Spanish connection" with teammate Rudy Fernandez in the third year. He was generally well-liked by the fans, if not well developed as a long term prospect by the team. His days in Portland drew to a close when he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in 2009, and his days in the NBA drew to a close after a brief stint with the New York Knicks in 2010. In the years since, he has thrived with Real Madrid, but now prepares to return to the NBA as a veteran with the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers.
On July 13, Rodriguez signed a one-year, $6.8 million deal in the city of brotherly love, where he will play alongside former Trail Blazers teammate Jerryd Bayless. Now at 30 years old, Rodriguez is a changed man, as you can read in his Q&A with Jorge Sierra of HoopsHype.com:
I just wanted an opportunity to prove myself again in the States and enjoy basketball. I’ve always said this… Even though people might think differently, I enjoyed my first years in the NBA a lot. In hindsight, it feels even better. I went there when I was very young, I played a lot of games and a lot of minutes for my age and my skill level at that time. Now I go back a different man, more mature and with family and I want to enjoy it in a different manner.
Despite his transformed mindset, Rodriguez goes on to point out that not all is different this time around. This Sixers team is quite similar to the Trail Blazers he joined a decade ago; young, hungry, and starved for a taste of prosperity:
It’s a situation akin to the one I had with the Blazers back in the day, especially my second year. Brandon Roy already had a great season under his belt, then you had LaMarcus Aldridge and it was a young group which was winning more and more. There was a lot of progress and we all grew together as a team. Plus the atmosphere there was really good. That gave us strength to improve. In Philly, I think it’s similar. Young guys are really looking forward to winning after a bunch of tough seasons and hoping to be important players in the NBA.
Rodriguez has the responsibility of being the most senior guard on a squad with arguably more young talent than any current NBA team not playing in Minnesota. Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Jahlil Okafor, Joel Embiid, and Nerlens Noel were all lottery picks from the last four years and all feature in the Sixers’ frontcourt. They have the makings of a strong future that the international star could help mold in the present. It will be worth monitoring how he responds to the call.
To read the full Hoops Hype Q&A, click here.