Ricky Rubio met with the media in Minnesota yesterday to talk about his recovery after the torn ACL and LCL injury that prematurely ended what had been a brilliant rookie season.
While he was the same sweet Rubio that everyone fell in love with this season, flashing smiles and giving positivity, he was also careful not to over-inflate opinions about when he will be back on the floor himself.
The Associated Press reports that Rubio said he was unsure if he will be recovered in time to take part in training camp with the Wolves at the start of next season.
The beginning of next season will be about seven-and-a-half months removed from when he had reconstructive surgery to repair his knee. Still on crutches, Rubio told the assembled media that he wouldn't put a date on his return.
''I don't know when I'm going to come back. The first thing that I want to make sure is when I come back I'm 100 percent,'' said Rubio, wearing a gray, zip-up hooded sweatshirt and his familiar beard and floppy black hair.
It was interesting to hear that Rubio himself didn't understand the extent of his injury when he went down. He told reporters that he thought he'd miss a game or two, before being informed that he had torn both ligaments.
While the positive tweets from Rubio's Twitter account have been yet another confirmation of why the basketball world has fallen in love with him, the press conference served as a sobering reminder that we'll be without the most exciting rookie to hit the league in years.
Every season, we're blessed with phenomenal talent and exciting stories, but Rubio was different. After being hyped from afar while playing in Spain, he came to Minnesota two years after he was drafted, and he exceeded all expectations.
Sports fans like a good disaster as much as they like a feel-good story. Sometimes people root for athletes to fail. Rubio came to the Timberwolves with more interest surrounding him than any other rookie in the league. He delivered.
He didn't just leave us wide-eyed with his jaw-dropping play, though. He made us want more Ricky. More of the smiles, the no-look passes, more of the flashy point guard who breathed life into a franchise desperate for excitement to accompany Kevin Love's emerging superstardom.
In the span of a few months, Rubio successfully captured the attention of fans, media and NBA veterans alike.
His teammates love him. Media members get excited to cover him. The fans treat him like basketball royalty.
He is a 21-year-old phenom whose name was used as a punchline for the past two years by people who wanted to make fun of David Kahn's draft choices.
Some things are guaranteed. Rubio's talent is one of them.
I hate that we're without him right now. As much as I hate it for us, selfishly, I hate it even more for him. An injury was the only thing that could slow Rubio. It slowed his game and will require him to rehab and work hard to get back.
Not even the injury could dampen his spirits. While the Wolves got lucky when they selected Rubio, we all won the day he decided to come to Minnesota.