We’ve got a special update today all about my new crush, Senior Rubio. First off, Ricky’s introductory press conference was at Target Center this morning. I attended it, which was pretty fanastic and awe-inducing (he looks even sexier in real life than he does in photos.) He was so funny, charming, and just darn likeable. Plus how can you not love the accent and broken English? Sorry, but I was eating it up. Ricky is already turning me into a 14 year old girl. ZOMG I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE HIM PLAY FOR US NEXT SEASON!!!!!!!1
I had even done real journalistic stuff, like take notes and crap like that, but then I found the entire Rubio press conference on Youtube. So I’ll just post that below the fold, rather than attempt to decipher what I passed off as notes. I will say, pay attention to the questions from Senile Sid Hartman. My goodness, someone just needs to put him out of his misery. First, Sid asked why his stats were so bad last season in Europe, and with that in mind, what makes Ricky any good? Fail. Ricky’s response to that is just classic.
Sid followed it up later with this gem: “The hot rumor is you’re gonna trade this guy and the #2 overall draft pick for ‘Gah-sole’ from LA?” My goodness Sid, really? The Kahnman then adamently denies any possible Rubio trade EVER (obviously not, after waiting this long… and DURING Ricky’s press conference), at which point Ricky chimes in with a quiet “Thanks.” That cracked everyone up. Myself included.
While introducing his family: “And my pretty sister… she doesn’t have a boyfriend.” More laughs all-around. What a swell guy. SO WITTY.
So like I said, below the fold we’ve got all the videos for his press conference, some pictures of Ricky in a TWolves uniform for the first time, and a special guest article titled “Rubio Brings Strength to a Dysfuncational Family” from valued TWolves Blog Forum Member “YWG”; also known as Matt Dahlseid from ‘Sota Sports.
Please click “Read More” for all the Ricky Rubio mania that you can handle…
First off, here’s the press conference from earlier today:
Ricky Rubio Press Conference: Introductions:
Ricky Rubio Press Conference: Q&A Part I:
Ricky Rubio Press Conference: Q&A Part 2:
Ricky Rubio Press Conference: Q&A Part 3:
“Rubio Brings Strength to a Dysfuncational Family”
Ricky Rubio has his doubters. In fact, he has a lot of them.
Rubio’s underwhelming stats in an overseas league have done little to build confidence in the 20-year-old who was dubbed a phenom in his early teens. But basketball is about much more than stats, and at his official introduction as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday, Rubio showed the media and the Timberwolves fan base why his supporters claim he has that ever-valuable “it” factor.
Even through his broken English, the charismatic Spaniard conveyed to listeners a team-first mentality, a dogged work ethic, a firm grasp of what makes a “true” point guard, and a sneaky sense of humor.
He also touched on something that takes higher precedence than even basketball — his family.
Although he has been a professional basketball player since the age of 14, Rubio has lived with his parents his whole life. He includes them in every important decision he has to make, and they surely played a big part in his decision to come to Minnesota two years after being drafted by the team.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Rubio said his family is “the greatest thing he has” and introduced the family members who will be making the move with him from Spain to the Twin Cities. After introducing his father (a former coach) and mother, he got to his younger sister Laia, a promising young basketball player in her own right. He told the cameras and the crowd, “She doesn’t have a boyfriend, but watch out.”
Rubio also spoke of “family” when referring to FC Barcelona, his former team which he helped to an ACB championship last week. Rubio built strong relationships with his Barcelona teammates, coaches, and team staff members, and he still shares tweets with them although he’s already begun his new NBA life.
A tight-knit group with a family-like atmosphere is one archetype of a championship-caliber squad. The Boston Celtics and Oklahoma City Thunder are two NBA teams that possess this formula. Fans saw just how much of a family the players on the two sides had built when Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson were traded from Boston to Oklahoma City for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic. Perkins was a wreck for days, Rajon Rondo was lost for weeks, and the Big Three seemed confused and upset by the shocking move made by Danny Ainge. It also took time for the Thunder to move on from the loss of Green, who had developed close relationships with stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
Not all successful teams are built on this “family-first” attitude. The Lakers have been far from a family, but have achieved great success over the past decade thanks to a Hall of Fame coach and the tandems of Kobe and Shaq and Kobe and Pau. The Miami Heat came close to a championship this season based on the supreme talent and athleticism of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, only to unravel and lose to a Dallas Mavericks squad that relied on a style of play that depended on teamwork.
The Minnesota Timberwolves organization has strayed from its family atmosphere since the departure of Kevin Garnett. When KG was in Minnesota, he demanded excellence from himself and from his teammates. He was a true leader and his passion was contagious. Fans in the Target Center caught on as well, appreciative of the effort given on a nightly basis by their team’s star player.
Today, the Timberwolves family is disjointed, to say the least. General manager David Kahn has left head coach Kurt Rambis out to dry since the end of the 2010-11 season in which the team (the youngest in the league) had the worst record in the NBA. There is also no pecking order on the squad. No one player who has shown he wants to take the reigns.
Kevin Love is coming off of an All-Star season and Michael Beasley has shown flashes of a premiere ability to score the basketball, but Love has yet to embrace the vacant leadership position and Beasley has been unable to shake the “unstable” character label due to his sporadic odd behavior on and off the court.
In Rubio’s first hours in the state of the Minnesota, he showed leadership without even speaking or meeting his future teammates. After getting some sleep following his trans-Atlantic flight on Monday, Rubio woke up and asked for an impromptu workout session at the team’s practice facility around 8 p.m. to work on his ball-handling skills and suspect shot.
Team staff members who were still around the facility, including assistant GM Tony Ronzone, were beyond impressed by Rubio’s relentless drive to improve his game. A Tony Ronzone quote via the fantastic Jonah Ballow at Timberwolves.com:
“I’m sitting there on the phones talking to teams and one of my assistants tells me that Ricky is on the floor shooting and I’m just like…that’s tough.” Ronzone added, “You have to love the kid wants to be in the gym and wants to be here, and it’s a good start to his career in Minnesota.”
Rubio spoke in his press conference of being the tallest kid on his team at a young age, but gravitating toward the point guard position because he always liked the idea of being a coach on the floor. On his pass-first style of play, he shared his favorite quote from Magic Johnson: “A basket makes one guy happy. An assist makes two guys happy.”
Even when he was only 14 years old, Rubio said his teammates in their 20s and 30s at DKV Joventut gave him their full respect on the court and listened what he had to say. With what he’s shown in his first 24 hours in the Twin Cities, it’s no wonder why.
The Timberwolves have recently talked about following the Oklahoma City Thunder blueprint for building a team. They’ve compiled a young nucleus of talent and will add to it Thursday with the No. 2 pick in the draft or through a trade. Following six straight seasons of losing basketball and seven straight seasons missing out on the playoffs, the organization can’t afford to have another rebuild. The players the team trots out for its next regular season game (whenever that will be) are going to be the foundation of Minnesota Timberwolves basketball for the next several years.
These players need to learn to win together. They need to play for each other and for the fans. They need to become a family, and they need an assist from Ricky Rubio to show them how.
Lastly, we leave you with the first pictures of Ricky Rubio in a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey. Enjoy!