Pau Gasol visits Toronto

Last night, members of the Spanish Community in Canada welcomed Pau Gasol to Toronto where he will start a 3 game tour with his team, Los Angeles Lakers. The Spanish associations of Toronto offered the basketball player a plaque of the city recognizing his career and his  work as ambassador of Spain and the Spanish culture all over the world. Representatives of the Spanish Community included Javier Yébenes and Paloma Radovski from “Spaniards in Toronto”, Maria Dolores González from “Hispanic Club of Toronto. Gasol also received a basket of Canadian products like Maple Syrup, to have a taste of our roots and our culture.

During the event, the attendees had a chance to chat with the NBA superstar and ask some questions. Gasol was perfectly correct and friendly at all times and when being asked about his recent concussion, he said he is ready to play against the Raptors and that he is fully recovered.

Javi Yebenes y Pau Gasol en Toronto

Once the event ended, Gasol had a workout session and he got authorized by his team to leave the hotel to join for dinner with his friend and Spain team’s teammate Jose Manuel Calderón.

After spending some time with him and talking about people in common and sharing anecdotes, I can say that Gasol is a true ambassador of the Spanish culture and the country around the world, and he represents me out of our borders better than any politician.

Javi Yebenes and Pau Gasol Toronto


Pound The Rock Dwane Casey Javi Yebenes Toronto Raptors
Image of coach Dwane Casey with the 1300 Pound Rock thanks to

A 1,200-pound rock sits just inside the front door to the Toronto Raptors’ dressing room, a reminder of the mentality the coach Dwane Casey is trying to instill in his team… and it seems to be working just fine.


This motto is written on the walls of the team’s practice gym and in the locker room.

The rock and the motto are there to remind the players every time they walk on the court. They are supposed to touch it as they pass by and will leave every huddle with a call to “Pound the Rock!

The meaning of the phrase goes back to Jacob Riis, a social reformer who wrote about the plight of the poor in New York in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Apparently this European reporter had a tireless fight for human rights in the late 1800s in North America and he always shared his philosophy of “not giving up”, he believed that if you try once and you don’t get the results you are looking for, you have to try again, and again, and again, until you find success.

Take a look to this interview to Coach Dwane Casey where he explains the philosophy:

Video from the Toronto Raptors Official Blog

Maybe the results of the Raptors this season are not the best, but I love the attitude on the court and I’m positive next season our team will get far on the post season.

As a coach or a teammate, there’s a story you can learn to motivate your team and achieve your long term goals:

At six-foot four inches tall, John’s presence was intimidating. When he looked at you, his focused stare caused most to look away, as this was a man who clearly had no fear.

John was disciplined. He rose early each day and followed the same routine. He would digest a few passages from the Bible, quickly dress and march to breakfast, where he hurried through scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, toast or pancakes and an often luke warm cup of coffee.

John wasn’t concerned, because he was on a mission. Each day after breakfast, John would ride the bus to the stone quarry, where he would dust off his sledge hammer and begin again where he left yesterday, pounding the rock.

As the sun rose in the morning sky, he would hammer away, each thrust another message to the universe that he would not stop, he would continue to pound the rock. After a brief break for lunch and a cool drink, John would begin again to pound the rock … pound the rock … pound the rock.

As the horn sounded to mark the end of another day, John would wipe the dust from his hammer, climb back on the bus and then hurry through a plate of meat, potatoes and vegetables, a few more passages of the Bible, then off to sleep.

The next day it would begin all over again. Pound the Rock. Pound the Rock. Pound the Rock.

John died last week at the age of 87. He had spent over 60 years in prison for a careless bar fight as a teenager. While John had to pound the rock every day in prison, he chose to do so with passion, his way of finding meaning in life and earning redemption for his careless crime.

What about you? Do you choose to “pound the rock” every day?

John had no choice. You do have a choice. Pound the Rock!

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