Regular readers of these pages will recognize these words, as I have written them many times before. Perhaps the cruelest word in the English language is potential; you can never exceed it and most times you never meet it. How many MLB players have been hailed as the next Mickey Mantle, or NFL players hailed as the next Payton Manning only to see them never come close? Ricky Rubio has been compared by some to the Late Great Basketball Hall Of Fame guard Pete Maravich. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill and we will soon find out if Rubio is up to the task.
Friday morning Rubio held a press conference in Barcelona according to “ESPN.com” and announced that he is finally making the leap to the NBA and will play in the upcoming season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rubio was taken by Minnesota with the fifth pick in the 2009 NBA Draft but the 20-year-old point guard decided to play his last two seasons in his native country. Rubio had to pay his former team a buy-out of $1.6 million in order to make the move to the NBA. The T-Wolves were able to provide him with $500,000 of that under NBA by-laws.
Rubio told reporters “I have finally decided to start the journey. It is my dream and I want to fulfill it. After thinking about it a lot, the time has arrived. I think all that I have won here gives me strength to go. I am going because I feel prepared. I want to play against the best players in the world.”
Rubio has played professionally in Spain since he was just 14-years-old. He was a big factor in Spain getting to the Gold Medal game against Team USA in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Spain lost to Team USA but Rubio impressed a lot of NBA observers with his play in the game.
FC Barcelona won the Spanish League Title on Tuesday night but this was not a good season for Rubio. He was relegated to the bench and averaged 6.5 points per game. The guard said “Individually, I could have done things better, but it is a team sport and we had success.”
Expectations are huge for the player from Spain as he will enter his rookie campaign after a two-year wait by the T-Wolves and their fans. We will find out in the next few months whether Rubio will shine in the Association or whither under the glare of the spotlight.