Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Kasumi on Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:18 pm

http://www.latimes.com/sports/basketball/nba/lakers/la-sp-plaschke-20130301,0,1335030,full.column

From Lakers insider to food truck driver

Former equipment manager Rudy Garciduenas lost his job two years ago after 26 years with the Lakers. Jim Buss might have considered him too close to Phil Jackson.

By Bill Plaschke
February 28, 2013, 5:16 p.m.

The hand that once wrote about daily NBA schedules on a greaseboard in the Lakers' locker room now composes daily specials on a surfboard propped against a sunset-colored truck.

Kona Sunset Shrimp Tacos, two for $7.

The distinctive voice that once boomed through the halls of Staples Center now is heard from underneath a tiny window; instead of ordering Lakers players into their uniforms, it is now taking office workers' orders for lunch.

Welcome to Sam Choy's Pineapple Express, may I help you?

Rudy Garciduenas was one of the most sturdy and respected links on the Lakers' food chain. Today he works in a food truck.

For 26 years, through Showtime and Shaq's Time and Kobe's Team, Garciduenas served as the Lakers' equipment manager, one of the few reliable constants in a sea of locker-room change. Two seasons after losing his job in a purge of staff members who were close to departed coach Phil Jackson, he has traded a life of passing out uniforms to one of passing out Brah Barbeque Pork Sandwiches for $8 each.

His story is an old one, and a new one. It is the time-worn Hollywood tale of the fleeting existence of those who serve the stars. Yet it uniquely involves an organization that was long run like a family, a Lakers culture that has slowly chilled since the benevolent late Jerry Buss placed its basketball operations in the hands of son Jim.

Garciduenas, who was laid off in June 2011 with nearly 20 other longtime employees, including training staff members and an assistant general manager, learned of his departure when he received a letter about temporary insurance. He received no severance pay. There was no farewell party. He spent the next year living off unemployment and retirement funds.

He came close to selling some of his valuable Lakers memorabilia to make ends meet but finally worked his way into this truck. On a recent afternoon on a narrow Hollywood street surrounded by post-production studios, Garciduenas could be found serving lunch to a long line of office workers with his same trademark Lakers smile and good humor, one bit of his Lakers past missing.

He has seven NBA championship rings — one more than Michael Jordan, two more than Kobe Bryant — yet he never wears one to work.

"I'd rather not end up with teriyaki sauce all over them," he said.

Garciduenas is a partner in Sam Choy's Pineapple Express, a truck that traverses Southern California six days a week selling the creations of celebrated Hawaiian chef Sam Choy. Garciduenas, 50, drives the truck, takes the orders, and generally manages a business that is literally miles from his former life in the center of the Lakers' glamorous storms.

His past job was adorned with Laker Girls. His current job is adorned with the giant scribbled words, "More hula for your moolah."

"What I did before, it prepared me for anything," he said.

What Garciduenas did before made him almost as much a part of Lakers lore as Jack Nicholson or free tacos. With his constant appearances around the court to deal with problems such as deflated basketballs and torn socks — he actually sat on the bench during road games — this short, round guy with a goatee became as recognizable as some of the players, with a job that was often as difficult.

"I guess I was part camp counselor, part parent," he said.

Garciduenas was the guy in charge of procuring and maintaining a selection of Shaquille O'Neal's size-23 shoes. To illustrate the uniqueness of such footwear, he would occasionally wear one of Shaq's shoes on his head. In appreciation of his work, O'Neal helped him buy a truck whose license plates eventually read, "THNX SHAQ."

Garciduenas was the guy who purchased and transported the special high chair that creaky Phil Jackson would require on the bench. He was the guy running for the white towel to cover up Robert Horry when a broken drawstring dropped his pants to his knees in Sacramento. He was the guy hurriedly stitching the corners of a name onto a jersey of a hastily acquired player and praying they would not fall off until a seamstress arrived the next day to make them permanent.

"We all love Rudy, all of us; you can't find a single person who doesn't love the guy," Lakers spokesman John Black said.

Yet two summers ago, on the eve of the NBA owners' lockout and shortly after the retirement of Jackson, Garciduenas received a letter giving the details of COBRA temporary health insurance. The next day, General Manager Mitch Kupchak summoned him to his office to confirm that he was being released as a cost-saving measure.

Several months later when the lockout was on the verge of ending, Garciduenas was offered a chance to interview for his old job. When he asked for a guarantee that he would be rehired, he was refused, so he did not interview. This time he was fired by FedEx.


"The atmosphere there was changing," Garciduenas said. "I felt like there wasn't a lot of people I could trust."

The Lakers' Black said the organization does not comment on personnel matters, but several of the fired employees — including fired assistant coach Brian Shaw — have since said that it appeared new basketball boss Jim Buss wanted to release anyone who was closely associated with Jackson. Buss has openly questioned the methods of Jackson, who has won a record 11 NBA championships and who also happens to be engaged to Buss' sister Jeanie.

"I felt that maybe people associated with Phil were not welcome there anymore," Garciduenas agreed.

Even before he was fired, Garciduenas had been considering opening a food truck with former Lakers chef Jeff Mora, using a menu devised by Choy, whom he had met during training camps in Hawaii. It finally came together last summer, and Garciduenas has been driving and dishing ever since, once relying on his Lakers skills to calmly navigate the truck 40 miles with no brakes and get it back on the road the next day.

"Rudy has an amazing temperament. He's used to dealing with multiple situations, things going south," Mora said. "He's the perfect guy to hit a moving target on a daily basis."

He has actually served some members of the Lakers, as Kupchak brought a front-office crew over to his truck when it was once parked next to a building adjacent to the Lakers' training facility. Garciduenas said he wasn't embarrassed, but proud of his new job, and happy to relive old memories.

"It was a sad experience, it was a part of my life that was hard to let go, but now, with this truck, I feel like I've been given a breath of fresh air," he said. "The Lakers were very good to me for a very long time, and I never want to forget that."

Garciduenas even showed up at last week's memorial service for Jerry Buss. He blamed him for none of this. He knows that the recent change in the Lakers' culture has nothing to do with the man who once created it.

"Dr. Buss was at the top, I was at the bottom, yet every day we saw each other, we exchanged salutations," Garciduenas said. "I wanted to show my immense respect for a man who respected everyone."

Garciduenas sighed and shook his head. The Hollywood sidewalk was empty. The lunch rush was over. It was time to start the truck.


He has a great attitude about it, but it makes me really sad as a Lakers fan to see what Jim Buss is doing to the organization we love so much. What they did to Rudy G and to Coach Shaw, then to Phil Jackson, is pathetic and not the actions of a world-class organization.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby JGC on Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:25 pm

Bummer. Though I'm confused a bit. The article said he is a partner in the food truck business right? Or, is just dealing food?

Good leason here to be learned which is always keep your eyes open for new opportunities and continue to develop your skills, experience and value you can bring to an organization.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Shadow on Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:27 pm

Classy move Jim Buss.. :freak2:
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Shadow on Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:31 pm

JGC wrote:Bummer. Though I'm confused a bit. The article said he is a partner in the food truck business right? Or, is just dealing food?

Good leason here to be learned which is always keep your eyes open for new opportunities and continue to develop your skills, experience and value you can bring to an organization.


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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby JGC on Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:36 pm

Shadow wrote:
JGC wrote:Bummer. Though I'm confused a bit. The article said he is a partner in the food truck business right? Or, is just dealing food?

Good leason here to be learned which is always keep your eyes open for new opportunities and continue to develop your skills, experience and value you can bring to an organization.


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Oh I know but it said he makes $8 an hour but then said he was a partner. If he is a partner, he is invested so I sure hope he is making more than $8/hr or he got another bum deal lol
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Kasumi on Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:43 pm

JGC wrote:Oh I know but it said he makes $8 an hour but then said he was a partner. If he is a partner, he is invested so I sure hope he is making more than $8/hr or he got another bum deal lol

The sandwich sells for $8, it didn't say he makes $8/hour.

he has traded a life of passing out uniforms to one of passing out Brah Barbeque Pork Sandwiches for $8 each.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby JGC on Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:20 pm

Kasumi wrote:
JGC wrote:Oh I know but it said he makes $8 an hour but then said he was a partner. If he is a partner, he is invested so I sure hope he is making more than $8/hr or he got another bum deal lol

The sandwich sells for $8, it didn't say he makes $8/hour.

he has traded a life of passing out uniforms to one of passing out Brah Barbeque Pork Sandwiches for $8 each.


Ahh thanks, I misread that. Good to see he is making a good living though running a business. Lot of other people in worse situations so I'm glad to see he's not on dire straits at least.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby TIME on Thu Feb 28, 2013 9:54 pm

Shadow wrote:Classy move Jim Buss.. :freak2:


Indeed. Stay classy Jim.

There were a LOT of stories of Dr. Buss' loyalty to employees at his passing. I think the apple fell a little too far from the tree.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby lakersyunowin on Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:11 pm

26 years and then given the boot cuz of ego. gfg.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Lakerjones on Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:29 am

Thanks for posting that excellent article Kasumi. As I've said many times, Plaschke knows next to nothing about basketball. I hate when he opines on B-ball because he just does not have a good understanding of the sport. He's a baseball guy all the way. But one thing Bill can do is write the heck out of a human interest story. He's a brilliant writer when it comes to human interest. Just bad at the basketball side of things.

We've all known that things have changed quite a bit since Jim took over the day to day running of the org. All of the scouts were fired and replaced by a Buss son, an ex-model and Chaz the bartender. The ties to Phil have certainly been severed as we saw with Brian Shaw, and then, as you mentioned with the way Phil was treated in this last coaching hire was just awful.

Who knows how it will all end up. Jim better re-hire Mitch this summer or we could be in deep doo doo.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby John3:16 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:38 am

Sad. The Lakers are supposed to be better than that.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Lakerjones on Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:55 am

John3:16 wrote:Sad. The Lakers are supposed to be better than that.


Agreed. I know that Jim Buss is a loaded topic here at CL as well as out in the world. You can't bring him up without extremes on both sides. A lot of people here complain that everyone just blames him for everything.

But when he does the things he has done, I don't see why he would get the benefit of the doubt. Sure, Jim shouldn't get blamed for EVERYTHING as some posters do here. He's done some good things, for example his personnel decision making, in my opinion. But other things have been blatantly bad and I think it's absurd to give him a pass on those, i.e. the way he handled Phil in the last coaching hire, the way he treated Brian Shaw, the way he passed over Rick Adelman (Mitch and Jerry's choice) in favor of Mike Brown, and the way he cleared house of many long term Lakers employees like Rudy and the scouts. Those things were clearly bungled.

Now is Jim Buss responsible for all the losses this year and should be blamed for that? I don't think so at all. The blame game definitely goes too far in that respect around here, IMO.

Moving forward we'll see how it goes. I'm not giving Jim a pass for things that happened before, but there is still a cloud covering the actions of the past in terms of Jerry Mitch Jim being a three-headed beast in charge of things.

Now it's all Jim. So there's no more averting the blame if it falls short, and no need to hold back any praise if he can return us to glory. I'm hoping that somehow he and Jeannie can patch things up and work well together. We shall see.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby therealdeal on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:01 am

^ Well said.

He's certainly done some questionable things. I thought the purge of Jackson's influence was too far. Right now my feelings towards him are slightly negative, but trending towards neutral.

The one thing I'd say is that Mitch didn't start off a master either. I'm willing to be a little patient with Jim Buss. But just a little.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Vasashi17 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:06 am

:disagree:

Jeanie needs to make a power play and be the majority voice going forward, cause this Jimmy guy is no good for business and no good for the Lakers brand and what it stands for.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Lakerjones on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:07 am

therealdeal wrote:^ Well said.

He's certainly done some questionable things. I thought the purge of Jackson's influence was too far. Right now my feelings towards him are slightly negative, but trending towards neutral.

The one thing I'd say is that Mitch didn't start off a master either. I'm willing to be a little patient with Jim Buss. But just a little.


^^ Certainly. Though he may have pissed folks off quite a bit with some of these things, especially the Phil Jackson non-hiring and the way it was handled, and making matters worse by forcing Mitch to do that lousy press conference where he basically told the fans to F-off . . . still, we have to see what he does coming up as owner without his dad. It may take some time. Or he may never get it right. But he's solely in charge of the running the basketball part of the ownership equation. We shall see how it goes, starting with Mitch Kupchak's contract negotiation.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby gcclaker on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:12 am

At least he did not get miserable and let his life go down the drain. I know of him and O'Neal having ties.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Lakerjones on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:13 am

Vasashi17 wrote::disagree:

Jeanie needs to make a power play and be the majority voice going forward, cause this Jimmy guy is no good for business and no good for the Lakers brand and what it stands for.


Not sure how that happens Vash. The two of them need to somehow work together because as it stands she runs the business side of things of course and Jim runs the day to day personnel basketball side. There's a separation of powers. It seems pretty clear that how it is was how Jerry Buss wanted it, and set it up. I don't see how Jeannie would be able to pull some coup or even that she is the best candidate to do what Jim is in charge of doing. What I would like to see moving forward is more cooperation and better unity with the two of them.

I do wish that Jim would defer the coaching hires to someone else like Mitch moving forward, however. He has a godawful feel for coaches, and can't seem to run a decent hiring to save his life. I mean, interviewing Dunleavy this time around and not calling Sloan or McMillan? Are you kidding me? Not to mention the Rudy T debacle, the Mike Brown over Shaw and Adelman debacle, the dissing of Phil debacle. Ugh.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby KB24 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:37 am

Not exactly a heartbreaking story...whatever.

Its business. People need to deal with it.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby JGC on Fri Mar 01, 2013 11:56 am

KB24 wrote:Not exactly a heartbreaking story...whatever.

Its business. People need to deal with it.


Ok good, I'm glad I'm not the only one that shrugged about this. I mean, he lost his job. What a bummer. But this isn't exactly a tragedy by any means.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby John3:16 on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:07 pm

KB24 wrote:Not exactly a heartbreaking story...whatever.

Its business. People need to deal with it.


I get what you're saying. Happens everyday in society. People get back up and move on (as he did). But the Lakers, especially Dr Buss, were known for loyalty if you showed loyalty too. Magic got paid through the end of his contract, despite not playing because of HIV. Kareem and James Worthy were extended, rather then being cut their last 2 years. I remember a quote from Scottie Pippen about Byron Scott being a Laker again one day, because the Lakers were loyal like that. What happened the next year? Scott was brought back to serve as a mentor for Kobe. Buss has said he rewards people who are loyal. I have no idea if Rudy G was good at his job. Maybe he needed to be let go. But him being let go, along with the rest of those deemed loyal or too close to Phil just reeks. It's not the Laker way.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Kasumi on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:10 pm

It's not that he lost his job - it's that he only lost his job because he was perceived as being too close to Phil Jackson. It's that he was notified of his job loss by receiving a letter in the mail about COBRA. It's that he got his final termination notice via FedEx. After 26 years, he deserved better than that. It's poor leadership any way you look at it.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby JGC on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:12 pm

John3:16 wrote:
KB24 wrote:Not exactly a heartbreaking story...whatever.

Its business. People need to deal with it.


I get what you're saying. Happens everyday in society. People get back up and move on (as he did). But the Lakers, especially Dr Buss, were known for loyalty if you showed loyalty too. Magic got paid through the end of his contract, despite not playing because of HIV. Kareem and James Worthy were extended, rather then being cut their last 2 years. I remember a quote from Scottie Pippen about Byron Scott being a Laker again one day, because the Lakers were loyal like that. What happened the next year? Scott was brought back to serve as a mentor for Kobe. Buss has said he rewards people who are loyal. I have no idea if Rudy G was good at his job. Maybe he needed to be let go. But him being let go, along with the rest of those deemed loyal or too close to Phil just reeks. It's not the Laker way.


We don't know the whole story. Apparently, they offered him an opportunity to interview for his job again and he said only if he guaranteed he'd be rehired.

That reeks of someone who took things for granted and who knows, maybe there were other reasons for it. I mean who responds to an offer for a job interview by saying they'll only interview if they are guaranteed the job? WTH?

I hear what you're saying about what they did for Kareem Abdul Jabbar, but we're talking about an equipment guy here. He collects jock straps basically. Not the same.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby Kasumi on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:13 pm

JGC wrote:I mean who responds to an offer for a job interview by saying they'll only interview if they are guaranteed the job?

Someone who had been doing the job for 26 years and knew the offer to interview was a formality - that they had no intention of bringing him back.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby JGC on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:16 pm

Kasumi wrote:
JGC wrote:I mean who responds to an offer for a job interview by saying they'll only interview if they are guaranteed the job?

Someone who had been doing the job for 26 years and knew the offer to interview was a formality - that they had no intention of bringing him back.


Or someone who took their job for granted and was too proud to feel they had to earn the job back.
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Re: Story of Rudy G's departure, now working a food truck

Postby DarthRekal on Fri Mar 01, 2013 12:31 pm

no wonder we suck.. KARMA... stupid Jim :bang:
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