It has been over a decade since the Trail Blazers acquired the rights to Spanish point guard Sergio Rodriguez. Now back in the NBA, Rodriguez is returning to Portland as a member of the 76ers. The former Blazers guard chatted with Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune before tonight’s contest, and it is clear that the well-traveled guard looks back fondly at his time in the Pacific Northwest.
"In many ways, I feel like Portland is my home in the States," Rodriguez says. "I learned how to drive in Portland. I started speaking English in Portland. I had some good friends there who I've kept.
"I consider my time in Portland like my college years. I was 20 to 22 years old. I didn't have the opportunity to go to college. So Portland was very helpful to my growth as a person."
No longer a 20-year-old prospect, Rodriguez is now a father and a husband. He credits his time with the Blazers as an integral part of his transition into adulthood, and is anxious to reunite with those he still keeps in contact with in Portland.
"I'm excited to see them," he says. "People are telling me how different the city is now, that it's grown a lot. I enjoyed my time there. All the memories are good. Every time I think back to my time there, it puts a smile on my face. The Blazers were the team that made my dream of playing in the NBA come true."
Rodriguez spent six years playing in Spain before fully embracing a return to the United States last summer. His decision to return to the NBA was driven not only by basketball, but also by the opportunities it would provide for his daughter.
"I wanted to educate my daughter in the best way," he says. "This was an opportunity for her growth in speaking a different language and living a different culture — things that will help for her future. By the time we decided to come, that was one of the priorities."
This will be Rodriguez’s first journey back to Portland since he was a member of the Knicks in 2010, but this trip appears to have a little more meaning at this stage of his career.
You can read Eggers’ complete interview with Rodriguez at the Portland Tribune.