Sunday, February 11, 2007

Barcelona is a pretty tough sports town. There's basically one important thing, the Barça, and everything else is very secondary. There are two newspapers, Sport and El Mundo Deportivo, completely devoted to the Barça, and they fill pages and pages with Barça news every day. The lead story on TV3 sports news is nearly always the Barça, even if the only news is that Sylvinho is still injured and Motta has the flu. If things are going well, they love you, but beware when things are not. Players who do not perform well are mercilessly hooted, as Bogarde and Zenden and Reiziger can tell you.

So it's with more than a little surprise that I notice a growing tide of resentment in the Spanish media at the current unfriendly reception Pau Gasol, virtually Catalonia's only non-football hero (he played on the Barça basketball team, so he has worn the holy red and blue too) is receiving in Memphis.

Now, let's review why:

1) Gasol demanded to be traded. Yeah, that makes the fans love you. Imagine if Barça's best player demanded a trade after sitting out half the season. They'd crucify him.
2) He got the coach fired.
3) He can't get along with team president Jerry West.
4) He got hurt while playing for the Spanish team and missed half the season for Memphis while earning $13 million a year.
5) Memphis fans perceive that Gasol doesn't always give 100% and doesn't play defense. He doesn't play the low post, and takes too many outside jumpers.
6) They built the team around Gasol, and they haven't won a playoff game yet. Perception around the NBA seems to be that he's good, but he should be the second- or third-best player on your team, because if you don't have anybody better than him, you're going nowhere.
7) To quote: "Scoring a lot of points for a shitty team doesn't make you a good player."

So a Memphis radio talk-show host named Chris Vernon wrote a ditty called, "Ode to Pau, or Who Wants a Crying Spaniard?" By Barcelona standards it's pretty mild, since the lyrics merely make fun of Gasol's play and attitude, don't attack him as a human being, include no swear-words, and don't mention his mother.

Quotes: "He's great in the first half," "When he runs up the court it'll make you laugh," "His wondrous defense looks like it's stuck in the mud," and "Me gusta baloncesto, no me gusta Pau."

Check out some of the comments Vernon got on his blog:

You're a fucking ignorant retard. Also, you don't know shit about basketball. Stupid americans think their basketball is the best around the world. Oh, no, wait, you forgot, you lost the world basketball tournament. who won? spain? with what player? Gasol? Face it, people are just pissed because they know that they're loosing their best player. Who'd want to stay in a team with people who don't want to win and cant play basketball... who wants fucking crying americans that don't know about basketball. Get a proper job, freak, somewhere where you don't have to talk shit about other people.

Vernon, your C.I. is very near to the average level in USA, 0.Make an effort and you´ll reach it soon!The song is pathetic, a real shit. Maybe you´ll have to try other things to make money, like being politic. In thant country of non-brained people I´m sure you´ll be soon president!

Yes, we are africans and fond of Al Qaeda, and we will crash a plane against Graceland.

You ungrateful freak! Your are blinded by your stupidity!! Yankee go home!

The world had very bad luck, osama bin laden had had to destroy your fucking head, no the twin towersfuck you, little bastard

Maybe you need to be visited there in Memphys....don't leave your wife alone

Say thanks to spain cause today u are civilizated people thanks 2 us. And we have to say thanks 2 US cause thanks to them, all the world is in war. And of course, that wars are because they have a great sense of humor right? yes, i think that when people celebrates american people murders, is because they have a great sense of humor.

hijo de puta!!!! Te meterte con PAU es meterte con todoso los españoles. Eres un fuck america, fucking bush and all that. You are very stupid like your funking mother.what happen with PAU?? ies the best player that you ever seen in memphis. You like to be nigger but you are a fucking white men.Yesterday your mother suck my assand i'ts so great and free.your mother is a fucking bech

Hurra for the charlies that kick the american ashes.Hurra for the japanesses that attacked pearl-harborAMERICAN DEAD FERTILIZER FOR MY GARDEN

Notice anything these responses have in common?

There's a lot more in Spanish, which I didn't bother translating. In case you want to read the whole thing, here's Vernon's January archive which includes several posts on the subject.

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