ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I first met Ricky Rubio back in 2007, when he was all of 16 years old. He was already playing in Spain’s top league, the ACB, holding his own against grown men. So I’ve followed his career closely since then, and watched with some interest as he’s started to make a name for himself in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Last week I caught up with Ricky in Los Angeles, where he was at an adidas event for his new shoe — the Crazy Light 3, which drops August 1. More than anything, I was surprised at how big Ricky’s shoulders and arms looked. The kid’s growing up (he turns 23 in October) and, for the first time in his career, has been making a concerted effort to hit the weight room to help fend off the physical guards he goes up against on a nightly basis.
The injury bug has bitten the Timberwolves hard the last two seasons, including taking a bite out of Rubio, who missed significant chunks of his first two NBA seasons after tearing his ACL.
Yet Rubio says for the T-Wolves, there are no more excuses: “It’s time for this team to show what we can do.”
ME: So how’s your summer going?
RUBIO: Been good, been good. I’ve been working out. Actually, I rested a little bit, which let my knee finally heal up. So I feel good.
ME: We’re here at this adidas photo shoot. I know last year was your first year wearing adidas, and now you’ve got a shoe and your own colorway coming out.
RUBIO: They’re great shoes, very light. Actually, I don’t wear a lot of shoes. A lot of NBA players wear like one a game, or something like that. I wore like one pair every two months or something. When they get dirty, I change it, but I don’t want to change it. I don’t like to wear new shoes. I like when the shoe is broken in. I almost only use two or three each season, which means it’s a good type of shoe, you know?
ME: Because it holds up.
RUBIO: Right, because I play a lot of games. And it’s pretty light, which I like. I don’t like to wear a low top, because I kind of twist my ankle, and I don’t like to wear a high-high top, because it stop me from doing some things. So I think it’s the perfect size for how I feel comfortable playing.
ME: Wait, so you wear the same shoe in practice, too? You wear the same shoe every day for like three months?
RUBIO: Yeah, I do. Clayton [Wilson], the guy who is taking care of us and ordering shoes …
ME: The equipment manager?
RUBIO: Yeah, he’s always like, “You need new shoes?” And I’m like, “Not yet.” And he says, “Um…” He was wondering in the beginning, but I told him I’m not going to order new shoes until I feel like the shoes need to change. I like that way.
ME: Last time I sat and talked with you was last summer, when you had just had surgery and you were still on crutches, still icing your leg like five times a day. How long this season did it take you to feel comfortable?
RUBIO: It took me a long time, more than I thought. In the beginning I was playing, and I was ready. My knee was 100 percent, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t feeling in shape, because if you are 9, 10 months out of the game, you can do whatever, but the game speed is just different. So actually, I think it take me a while. I think the Charlotte game, the first time I scored more than 10 points, was actually the first game I feel like I was back, you know? After that I was playing pretty good. Actually, I think it was March, end of March, that I was feeling the best I felt in the NBA. And now that I’m working hard and trying to get stronger legs and all that stuff, I feel pretty good. I’m excited for next season. (more…)