by Lang Whitaker

When I walked into the Portland Trailblazers locker room on Tuesday night, I found Rudy Fernandez sitting alone in front of his locker. I walked over to him and introduced myself as Lang from SLAM. “SLAM!” he said, obviously recognizing the mag, which made me smile.

Anyway, we started talking about Barcelona, and I told him I saw him play last year when I was over there to meet Ricky Rubio and he and Ricky were playing together for Joventut. There’s been talk about Ricky declaring for the ’09 Draft — even though he’ll only be 18 when the actual drafting occurs, he’ll be 19 when the season starts, making him eligible for the Draft; I don’t know what Ricky’s buyout looks like, either. Anyway, I asked Rudy how he thought Ricky would do in the NBA if he came over next season.

“He’s the best young player in the world right now,” Rudy said. “I think it’s obvious that he could play in the NBA. But I think it’s important that when he comes to the NBA, that Ricky finds the best situation for him. He doesn’t need to come for financial reasons, so if he comes to the NBA, it should be because it’s a good situation, as far as the team he comes to.”

“Maybe he comes this year, maybe he waits for two or three more years, I don’t know. But I think it is very important that he needs to come to the right team and the right situation, and I told him that. He is still very young.”

I pressed Rudy a little on how he thought Ricky’s game would translate to the NBA, and while he allowed that Ricky could improve his scoring, he thought defensively he could fit in because he’s always racked up steals.

• Russ touched on this in his game notes from the other night, but in the Knicks locker room, Al Harrington had a bright orange pair of unidentifiable hightops in front of his locker. I was trying to get a look at them and David Lee finally just picked them up, and we discovered they were these PF Flyers. I asked D-Lee if he’d consider wearing a pair since they were the same horrible orange color worn by Lee’s alma mater, the University of Florida.

“No,” he said. “I’m already tall enough. I don’t need to draw any more attention to myself.”

I then asked if he’d get some jorts to go with the shoes. Florida may beat my Georgia Bulldogs from time to time, but at least I’ve never owned any jorts. (You know who does wear jorts, oddly enough? Khalid. I’m putting that out there. Ben also admits to having worn a pair. I firmly believe that white people should not be allowed to wear jean shorts.)

D-Lee didn’t give me a straight answer. So I’m taking that as a yes.

BTW, Roll Tide.

• Reader Tyrone Thomas sent along this link to a Yao Ming Transformer doll. We all know, however, if any NBA player is actually a robot, it’s Tim Duncan.

• Finally, my friend Vanessa over at XXL sent along this link. Great video, and check for the Shawn Marion and Dwyane Wade appearances toward the end…