Have you ever rooted against your team? Not like Eagles fans root against the Cowboys – I mean, have you ever rooted against your squad just a little bit? Sitting on the Team USA bench, Nate McMillan wasn’t technically cheering against the Americans in the gold medal game versus Spain, but he does admit that when Rudy Fernandez was putting on a show, he did have to hold back a smile.
“I’m sitting there (in the gold medal game) with a straight face, trying not to smile,” McMillan said. ” (Spain) are the guys we have to beat, but I’m caught. That’s my player and I want to (he claps his hands twice) but I gotta (he makes a serious face) because we are going up against him.”
I don’t fault Nate for being conflicted. Fernandez was an absolute animal, throwing down the consensus best dunk of the tournament by a non-American player. I’m not saying that he wasn’t doing his job as a Team USA assistant. He was, but as Blazers fans already know, McMillan is crazy passionate about his job in Portland, and he couldn’t help but be stoked about their future.
“Every time Rudy did something, D’Antoni would look at me and say, ‘Your player, huh?’ ” McMillan said. “And I would be, ‘Yeah, he’s cool.’ Like no big deal.
“Then he does something else, and D’Antoni would be like ‘Dang! Pretty good, huh?’
“Yeah, he’s alright,” McMillan said he told him. “He’s okay. Still has to work on going to his left.”
“But then he kept doing stuff,” McMillan said, in an amazed tone. “Then all of a sudden he catches a lob, then he steals it and is swinging on the rim, and it’s like … dang. Over there, you talk about the U.S. basketball team, and Rudy is the next thing you talk about. It was Team USA. Rudy. And he played to earn that.”
Source: Oregon Live