Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills. Is it just me, or do those two play incredibly well as a tandem? During the Clippers game last week I noticed their continual connections. Patty to Rudy for a reverse. Patty to Rudy for three. Patty to Rudy for a tip-in.
Over and over. I thought, what’s different? Why do they make each other so much better? Here’s what I’ve come up with, friendship.
I’m not quite sure when or how, but Rudy and Patty developed a close bond off the court. The pair hang out on road trips, share neighboring lockers, tweet each other constantly and seem ready to throw down a headlock with a noogie at any time. The constant joking and laughter coming from their direction always brings smiles to those surrounding.
Then it happened on the court for all to see. Patty earned the back-up Point Guard spot from rookie Armon Johnson and was tossed into the second unit salad bowl. Evidenced from the videos above, the Rudy-Patty connection, or whatever moniker it will undoubtedly earn, was born.
I caught up with Patty recently and asked for his thoughts on my theory. They echoed mine completely. “It starts off the court, first of all, before you even talk about basketball. Us internationals like to stick together” he said “Me and Rudy kinda kicked it off quite well last year. And that kinda translates off the court. I think that he’s having a lot more fun out there now, he’s not really thinking about things to much he’s just going out there and having fun. I think that’s a big key..”
As we delved deeper into the conversation Patty called Rudy over, I told him my idea about their friendship and how it translated to the hardwood. Rudy’s response, “I don’t have a relation with him.” We all had a good chuckle and Rudy explained Patty’s influence on him in the clearest english I’ve heard from him yet. “We connect in the court. I have to take confidence. He’s a great person, great guy. I feel great when I play with him. He helped me a lot in my confidence, and he is a good person. I think that basketball sometimes is up and down, and Patty help me a lot in this moments.”
My up-close look at the duo left me enamored with thoughts of future high-flying Patty to Rudy dunks and deep three-pointers. I knew dividends would be paid. To my surprise, the future would come that night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rudy had a career-high 26 points while nailing 3-of-4 shots from downtown in the first half alone. Following the game Rudy described just how much fun he had. “I think that for me today, in the game you know it’s have fun, it’s I’m feeling good, I’m feeling play free you know and this is what I want.”
The now visible impact of Patty on Rudy has been enthralling to watch, but the power of friendship for these two can’t be measured on a stat sheet. It transcends the game and comes down to the two words they use for each other, “my bala.” Which simply put means, my brother.