September 16, 2008
On my last day in the hotel, I was walking out of the front door when I heard someone calling my name. I looked around, but I didn't see anyone, so I kept walking.
"Rod Benson! Are you Rod Benson?"
I finally pinpointed the location of the call. It was coming from the passenger seat of a parked car. I looked inside and there was Ronny Turiaf. He looked at me as I responded. I had to pretend like I wasn't completely surprised to see him calling my name in Nancy, France.
"Yeah, that's me," I told him.
"I saw what you did last year in the D-League, man. Good stuff. Good luck out here," he said.
"Thanks. You had a great year, too."
It was a quick interchange, but it was cool to know that a guy with a high degree of Boom-Tho-Ness like Mr. Turiaf respects the D-League and the things that guys were doing down there.
I watched the French National Team play a game versus Belgium in our home arena later that week. Turiaf, Tony Parker, and the rest of the French guys handled Belgium pretty easily.
During the game, Tony Parker's dad came up and asked me if I was Rod Benson as well. I told him that I was. He said that he had heard good things and that he couldn't wait to see me play this season alongside his other son, TJ. TJ Parker is my age and is also a member of SLUC Nancy (my team).
After the game, there was the official French National Team after-party, which was actually my first nightlife experience in France (read about the second, here). Right off the bat I realized that arriving at 11 p.m. meant that I was arriving way too early. All the French guys arrived at like 1 a.m.. I later realized that the fact that I can't speak French, coupled with loud music and noise, means that there is almost zero reason for me to open my mouth at a club. I did a lot of talking to myself, dancing with myself, and kickin' it — with myself. It was kinda awkward being the only person who knew, and danced, the entire Soulja Boy "Crank That" song.
The D.J. started playing some Snoop Dogg and Tupac and soon enough I was the only person C-Walking, too. I kind of felt like I was a mime. I said no words, I made no eye contact, I just moved around by myself while many people drank and watched.
Finally, a woman walked up to me who spoke pretty good English.
"Do you play for the Nancy basket team?" she asked.
"As a matter of fact I do," I responded proudly.
I felt like I was finally going to get a little recognition. It was about coddamn time, too.
"Can you help me meet Tony Parker?" she asked.
"My English is poor. Can you meet me to Tony Parker?"
I pretended not to understand. What she failed to understand was how badly my ego was bruised. Pssh, Tony Parker? What about me? I don't even know Tony. I walked away and returned to my face-paint-less mime routine until I got tired and went home to sleep.
Man, I've got to learn this language.
Rod Benson is a Cal grad and former D-Leaguer who plays for SLUC Nancy, the reigning French league champion. When he's not busy dancing by his lonesome, he blogs one or two times a week on Ball Don't Lie. Read his archive, pay a visit to TooMuchRodBenson.com and always support the Boom Tho movement.