The sold-out Target Center electrified as the crowd anticipated a new season for the Minnesota Timberwolves. This is the new-look Wolves—a new promise to a team full of frustrations and disappointments. This is the new beginning, the small flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.
Ricky Rubio knows he had to carry loads of expectations on the team. It has been four years since the last time the Target Center had a sold-out season home opener, and all eyes are on the 180-pound Spaniard.
The people in Minnesota have been waiting for two years, losing 132 games and losing fans in return. Heartaches are already an understatement…dreams and hopes have been continuously crushed that they already became numb to failures. Two years of anticipation, and they don’t care if Rubio doesn’t live up to their expectations, they just wanted change…they wanted Ricky to try. They have been a laughing stock and in the rock-bottom for too long, and for once they crave something that had been so elusive…winning.
As starting point guard Luke Ridnour drew his second foul, the Wolves new coach, Rick Adelman, called Rubio. The crowd all pumped up, rose to their feet and started clapping. Ricky, who looks nervous, blew some wind on his closed fists. For years, Ricky has lived up to high expectations; he has been a pro since he was 14 years old, and he had been accustomed to critics and failures. This is his moment, the part when all great players take their baptism of fire.
As Ricky holds the ball, everything was swept aside. He was playing like he had been in the NBA for years. His passing was flashy, and yet it was so accurate and précise. His one-hand pass to a Derrick Williams over-the-back dunk drew some “ohhhs and aahs” in the crowd.
Six assists and six points on top of his five rebounds were quite impressive for a rookie debut. J.J. Barea, the flashy play-making point guard, also was impressive and together with Rubio creates an exciting backcourt tandem.
It was a close game, and the crowd this time got excited for their new Wolves. Although they lost to a stronger and more jelled team in the Oklahoma City Thunders, they have seen the confidence and resiliency that they have been waiting for all along.
A championship may be a long shot to the moon or even a playoff spot since 2004. However, they are just content knowing they are done with losing and are slowly getting back up. It was a painful and discouraging process, but with Rubio and the new-look Wolves…it’s all worth it. Welcome to the Rubio Show.