Ricky Rubio: Making the Minnesota Timberwolves and Water Coolers Relevant Again

Jon SiddowayCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2012

Yesterday at work sums it up perfectly:

I walked into the teacher's lounge to discover a group of co-workers huddled near the water cooler, each holding a filled-up cup and each discussing Ricky Rubio's Monday night performance.

Needless to say, I was taken back and even looked around to see if I had somehow entered a strange time portal. I'm pretty sure people haven't used the water cooler for communication purposes since Bill Clinton was president, Titanic dominated the box office and Rubio was still a toddler, having presumably already mastered the behind-the-back pass. 

Collectively, as if trained synchronized swimmers, the teachers took sips and then took turns praising another impressive game by the rookie point guard. In a win over the Houston Rockets, Rubio scored 18 points, dished out 11 assists and grabbed eight rebounds—two shy of his first triple double in the NBA.

In a time now dominated by texts, tweets and status updates, the water cooler crowd was a pleasant sight to see.

In a league now dominated by selfish play and the diminishing attention to assists, Rubio's play has been as equally refreshing as the cool water we gulped while waiting for classes to begin. 

The spanish native is averaging 11.9 points, 8.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game during the beginning stages of his first season in the league. Only Rubio and Clippers star Chris Paul have averages that high in all four categories. 


Drafted fifth overall in the 2009 Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rubio opted to stay overseas to further polish his game. Two years later, he's been the ideal gift for a patient franchise and their fans.

Rubio's playmaking abilities have been well highlighted (thanks to YouTube and the Olympics) long before his arrival, but it's the much-improved jump shot and stellar defense that have Minnesota residents learning how to clap again. Winters seem a lot warmer nowadays with the Spaniard in town.   

The Wolves haven't been this relevant since the mid-late '90s, when Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury roamed the Target Center. It's been that long; felt even longer for an enduring fan base.

However, things are looking up for the team with a youthful yet sturdy foundation to build on in Rubio, Kevin Love and Derrick Williams. They may still be a year or so away from the playoffs, but are already competitive and a lot of fun to watch.

And talk about, even at water coolers.  

As everyone dissipates to their respective classrooms, the science teacher, caught up in all the excitement, crumples up his paper cup and attempts a behind-the-back toss towards the garbage can.

It misses completely. 

Rubio would have made it.