My first glimpse of the Nike P.Rod promotional madness I witnessed was on the side of a bus as my cab neared downtown Portland. From that moment on, your average passerby would have thought Paul Rodriguez was the Mayor of Portland. His image was all over the city. This Street League stop was definitely themed after Paul just as every Kansas City stop was all about Sean Malto. Sean is from KC and they called Portland “Paul’s second home” so naturally Nike welcomed him with open arms.
I made my way to the Rose Arena and right out front was a gigantic billboard featuring Paul larger than life. As I walked inside I was surprised at the color scheme of the actual course. The P.Rod 7 recently dropped and the red and black colors mocked Paul’s latest shoe, right down to the tiger stripes. Aesthetically it looked damn cool and I’m sure it’s appearance was amazing on television. The entire Rose Arena was filled with P.Rod posters in every single seat and again, looked cool. If you were one of Paul’s fans and came to this contest you were so stoked. How would you not be?
Later on in the day we gave the higher ups at Nike a tour of the course and they met with the majority of the Nike SB team. One of them was the person responsible for the design of the original Jordan 1. I had no choice but to fan out on that seeing how it’s one of the best looking shoes in history. Flash backs of Tommy Guerrero, Cab, and the Gonz rocking Jordan Ones put a nostalgic smile on my face. Politics aside, Nike has made some solid shoes for skating even when they weren’t trying to. Now they are top notch.
The next morning, this landslide of promotional aspects finally hit me. Want to talk about pressure? Oregon is the home of Nike and they promoted Paul Rodriguez 100% for the Portland stop. The entire city has your image all over it, everywhere. The actual arena boasts the same image as you approached the contest. The course you are skating is the same color as your latest shoe. 15,000 screaming fans are all holding up your poster. One of your major sponsors have brought all the higher ups to watch the contest. Beyond all of these other facts, you are competing against the best skaters in the world. Pressure situation? How would Paul Rodriguez deal with this mountain of pressure? By winning.
Portland was heavy. All of the skaters were on point in practice. By all means this could have been Chris Cole’s day with a back to back win. Luan Oliveira was a wrecking ball and couldn’t miss a trick. Ishod Wair blew us all away and put together the most insane lines. Portland was so heavy. In the end Paul showed everyone why he is a prodigy. In my opinion he is the last prodigy. Now there is a “amazing new guy” every other day because of the unlimited internet sitings. I can tell you right now there’s more pressure to fill his shoes than to be in them. Flavor of the months are a dime a dozen, there is only one P.Rod. -ERL