Rubio-mania and all its glory

Ricky Rubio of the Minnesota Timberwolves poses for portraits on June 21, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The madness has begun...

It all started when the Spanish Savior set foot onto a 15-hour flight to the MSP International Airport Monday afternoon. Greeted by a couple hundred fans, I’m sure the many not decked out in Wolves gear thought Paul McCartney was in town, or even the ghost of John Lennon, judging by the frenzied stir of the massed crowd. No, no, it’s just Ricky and his one-man boy-band.

The madness continued as Ricky’s day grew more hectic by the second. First it was a tour of the city, then the Target Center, then dinner with select season ticket holders. You’d think it’d be hard for the phenom to even catch his breath amongst the madness, but he did it all. He even had time for a late-night workout, which Kahn called more intense than just your average workout. “I came to play basketball,” Ricky said. And so he did.

Tuesday came the major press conference that seemed to catch the whole world’s attention in all of it’s overhyped ways. I was in attendance and didn’t believe it was as large of a spectacle, but I digress. After that was a more in-depth media session and a photo shoot and a meet-and-greet with the Taylor family.

It’s all beginning to make my head twirl. I may even be seasick from it all. Rubio-mania is in full-effect and it’s rejuvenated the Twin Cities’ interest in basketball since the K.G. era. After all, that is what Rubio was supposed to do, right? The Wolves have failed to obtain that face of the franchise since Garnett’s departure, and with it went all interest in Timberwolves’ basketball. Ticket sales slipped, interest in seeing the team fell too. There was a time where many had trouble even naming 2-3 players on the team! It was horrible.

But that’s all over now, right? The Savior is here. We can sit back and rest as Rubio takes the heavy weight of this franchise’s losing ways on his shoulders and turns it all around for the better.

Not so fast.

Ricky is a mighty fine player, and one to certainly get excited to see (Wolves have sold over 500 season ticket packages since Rubio’s arrival, most since 2004.) He’s done great things in Europe since becoming a pro at the tender age of 14 (I think I was coming off the bench for my 8th grade B-team at that age.) But stats don’t lie. Ricky had a miserable season in Barcelona, riddled by injuries and a benching come postseason time. It wasn’t all bad, seeing they did win the title and all, but it wasn’t that uplifting, glorifying moment many had hoped for (Rubio leads Barcelona to a Championship with a 15-15-5 performance in the final game! Wow, look at him go!) Now he’s just looking for that fresh start and to live out his “dream” by being in the NBA.

But one really has to call to question how good this kid will be. And will he really be able to turn this franchise around? I have my doubts, as should you. Ricky will be a rookie in the NBA next season at 20 years old. He’ll be playing alongside some young, albeit talented, but very young and inexperienced players like Michael Beasley, Kevin Love and Anthony Randolph. He also seems to be missing a coach, a true leader and mentor. The team, despite looking a tad better than last year’s already with a much brighter hope for the future, is still in shambles and in need of a major tune-up. It’s safe to say that Minnesota is no Barcelona. Not. Even. Close.

The atmosphere and aura of the Minnesota Timberwolves has never been great. There’s always been that piece that’s missing, even back in ’03-’04. This ’11-’12 team still has major holes they need to fill before turning it around, and it’s certainly not fair to put all the expectations along with that added pressure onto a mere rookie such as Ricky. Rubio-mania, though, with all of its excitement and glam has transformed the Twin Cities back into basketball lovers. But what we all need to do now is sit back and, instead of relaxing and letting Ricky go to work, re-evaluate the situation altogether: Ricky is here, he should be good, but don’t expect him to turn it all around singlehandedly. Just don’t do it.

Rubio-mania has been a blast. It’s time to snap back into reality and put some faith in this team and its front office and not overdo it with the high expectations on such a young talent. You’ll never know if they’ll ever be met, so don’t put yourself up higher because the drop will only hurt worse, if it were to come.

Countdown to Rubio

Hope you have a happy Ricky Rubio's Judgment Day

Today marks the final day  in which Ricky Rubio can exercise his buyout with Regal Barcelona and join the Wolves for the ’11-’12 season. Under the current rules of the CBA, May 31st is the final day for teams to sign a player to a contract under the rookie scale before the next season. But really, today shouldn’t be recognized as the last for anything; instead today could be viewed as the start of a countdown. For many of you who don’t understand, there are other ways the Wolves and Rubio can get around either signing or reporting he’s part of the team and not actually have to announce it today.

But with today being the most important in months, fans must realize this is all but a done deal. Some obstacles remain very present and could force Rubio’s fate away from the NBA for yet another season.

One of them being Rubio is still under contract with his current team in Europe right now. It’s playoff time, actually. And although Ricky’s not playing as big of a part as some would think (He’s coming off the bench) there’s a good chance he wouldn’t set sail from his squad in the heart of a playoff race. The Wolves, after a couple years of studying Spanish law, actually have figured out that they can sign Rubio to a “future contract.” That way he’d be able to finish the postseason in Spain and join the Wolves near the end of June when the postseason ends.

Another issue could be the international factor as well as the fact that Rubio doesn’t want to play here, as he subtly hinted at when he was drafted. Rubio’s been oh-so shy since receiving even minuscule amounts of NBA attention, making the likelihood of him making his decision via press conference or anything like that slim-to-none. So if later tonight he does indeed decide to be bought out, you won’t hear it unless you have Twitter or an up-to-date news source of that nature. And if you’re looking for this decision to reach the amount of production, limelight and sickening suspense like “Lebron’s Decision Day,” you’re in the wrong place. This news, if broken, will be a small but important bit of info fans can get excited about. Not like using some charity philanthropy to gain leverage on NBA fans around the world and then drop them on their heads in one man’s quest to be a part of an All-Star squad. But I digress.

And finally, the most serious threat to Rubio not signing at all: The expiring CBA. With a lockout looming and neither side, the players or the owners, budging on negotiations to fit a new CBA into place, Rubio may not want to deal with the unpredictability of the whole situation and rather stay in Europe altogether. But, under the current CBA, which expires on June 30th, players are able to sign a free agent on July 1st. So Rubio, if he doesn’t declare his future today and the Union and the owners can sign a deal before the CBA expires, has a new date, July 1st, to actually sign a contract with the team for next season.

Still, even with these issues present, there are “good things happening” behind the scenes, a source told me. The odds of us hearing it today may not be the highest by any means, but they’re more than zero. That’s a very good thing. That means Kahn and co. have done good work the past few months and made progress on getting their man overseas. I’ve even heard from others that the Wolves have already signed Rubio and are just waiting for another date to release the good news, which would be fantastic!

And that is why today should be a good day, rather being the final or last time we can get Rubio over here before next season. There are ways around it, as I already reviewed, that make it possible for today to be just as normal as any other. It’s just that today should be thought of as the start of something, not the end.

So if all ends well, something Timberwolves fans know absolutely nothing about, Rubio will be a Timberwolf at some point this summer and will join the team in their effort to turn this ship around, so there’s not reason to fret. It’s another piece to the puzzle but it’s the one you lost under the couch from three months, and you’re happier than hell to get it back and connect it to the board.

Rubio Lessons: Never Trust a Jonas Brother

RickyRubioNBADraft452.jpg (452×338)

We don't need the dude from Lie to Me to tell us what Rubio is thinking.

When I was about 10, I was still convinced that I could play basketball in the NBA. I learned to dunk on my Nerf basketball hoop just like Vince Carter. I spent hours in my drive way, pretending to hit buzzer beaters. Suffice to say…if an NBA team had ever tried to lure me away from, well, just about anything, I would have dropped it like it was hot and moved to Minnesota, Charlotte, Alaska, Russia, or pretty much wherever they told me to be.

So maybe a part of me is just jealous of Ricky Rubio. Maybe.

But honestly, I can’t be the only one getting sick of the Rubio drama, right? The never-ending speculation? The waiting game? At this point, I feel like we are getting expertly led on by a girl who knows the game much better than we do, leaving us just interested enough to keep hope alive, but deep down, of course, fully aware that we have no chance in hell.

I started writing this piece several days ago, actually. The original title was Ricky Rubio: A Refresher. Included within the article were glowing reviews of Rubio’s court vision, defense, and addiction to no-look passes; all the reasons why Wolves fans should be excited. See, things were starting to look optimistic. Kahn had just visited Spain. NBA writers were speculating on how Rubio coming over would change up the draft. I caught myself frequently refreshing my Google news with the key word “Ricky Rubio” typed into the search bar. I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one.

Then, somewhere along the line, my Ricky positivity faded. I’m pretty sure it was around the time the draft lotto happened, and reminded us all that the Timberwolves are still the Timberwolves, and they still never catch a break. And Kahn stopped sounding optimistic, and started saying things like “I’ll talk about it when there’s news.” And Rubio decided that he didn’t want to ditch his Spanish League team during their playoff run, which sounds all well and good, until you consider that Rubio’s next series doesn’t end until June, and nobody really has any idea when David Kahn’s mystery timeline runs out on signing Rubio…including David Kahn. Not only that, but Rubio is a bench contributor at best on his Spanish League team. In their clinching game of the last series, Rubio played 19 minutes off the bench. Ricky! You are getting the same kind of playing time as Eric Maynor! They would survive without you!

Tangent: Is Rubio aware that the only way he doesn’t start on the Timberwolves is if he’s a European flop of Darko proportions? Or, as a matter of fact, that Darko actually started for the Wolves this year? (Insert the sound of Wolves fans weeping.)

Anyway, at this point, thanks to a badly worded clause in the CBA (see the fantastic Canis Hoopus link above), we don’t actually know when the Wolves have lost their opportunity to bring Rubio to the States, or when they could sign him if he was even interested. Speculation is running rampant that Kahn has to be considering trading Rubio, especially if Derrick Williams succeeds in his campaign to have Cleveland draft him second.

So which would be more frustrating: suffering through even more Rubio drama or seeing Kahn trade away the player we’ve been hoping and waiting to see in a Timberwolves uniform for the past two years?

You tell me. I’m tired of thinking about it. If you are looking for me, my Nerf basketball hoop is calling.

Wolf Track: "Ricky Rubio: An object of faith"

Here’s the link to a terrific article on one Ricky Rubio. BIE goes through the phenomenon that was Rubio’s amazing ’09-’10 season, but also discusses his brief decline in ’10-’11. Is Rubio the best point guard in Europe? No, wait, let’s go one step further: Is Rubio even the best point guard in Spain at this point? Read and find out.

Wolf Track: Rubio Update

Via ESPN Insider:

According to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, Wolves president David Kahn still expects Rubio to play in Minnesota next season.

Kevin Love is friends with Rubio and stays in contact with the young point guard.

“I still text him every now and then,” Love said. “Not too often, once or twice a month. I’ve always said I hope he comes over sooner rather than later so we can get this thing started.”

Love thinks Rubio can make an impact in the NBA.

Ricky Rubio and the "nameless" source

Ricky Rubio

A few days ago, the New York Times released a story about our pivotal savior, Ricky Rubio, and in the process provided a healthy dose of biased analyzation to go along with it.

The article may have come off as juicy to some or maybe just another BS story with non-committal comments from Rubio himself. But what really amped interest from readers across the nation was that the story cited “a senior member of Rubio’s camp” saying that Rubio has no desire to play in Minnesota.

First off, what the hell is a “senior member?” For all we know, that could be Rubio’s massage therapist who had a conversation with Rubio about the NBA a year ago. In today’s “off the record” world, unnamed sources are about as useful as dull knife; they can still get a point across but you can’t trust them to make the best, most accurate cut possible.

Secondly, who are the New York Times to hoax another story of a poor, innocent Spainard — who knows barely a lick of English, I might add — and lure him into saying something along the lines of, “I’d rather play in Boston, New York or Miami when I come to the NBA.” It’s baffling to see that Rubio’s stance has not changed, yet the national media — all be it, from the city who wishes so badly they could own Rubio’s rights — is still trying to turn his innocent and meaningless comments into a hate message aimed directly at the face of David Kahn and the Timberwolves organization.

This is clearly just one more shot that the Timberwolves have to endure from the aggressive onslaught of ridicule and torture that comes from the national media. The media in places like Boston, New York and L.A. have a way of convincing or influencing culture in some sort of way because of their ability to reach such a mass audience in one false swoop. But when places like Minneapolis have to compete with the competitive nature of the media from either coast, it’s hard to counteract such a broad statement, such as that said of Ricky Rubio’s future endeavors. And what makes it even harder to push that argument is the fact that we have no assurance on Rubio’s desires or plans. We’ve never gotten a clear answer of whether he would enjoy himself in Minnesota or not. Whenever these stories come up, he just says the same old thing.

My take: Nothing. This story is obviously just another fabricated attempt into getting the Wolves to believe Rubio’s desire is to be elsewhere and that if his demands aren’t met, he has all the power to just remain in Spain for the time being. You really shouldn’t read too far into this, unless more emerges in the next few days, especially if something comes from Rubio directly.

But for now, I’m going to stick to my guns and refuse to trust Mr. “Senior Member of Rubio’s Camp”.