Wolves' Ricky Rubio excited to play for Rick Adelman: 'He love to run'
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Ricky Rubio arrived in the Twin Cities on Wednesday to begin his rookie season with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
But it was only fitting that the former Barcelona point guard had to overcome one more obstacle after his NBA debut was delayed two full seasons because of buyout issues with his club in Spain and an additional two months because of the lockout.
"I decided to come (to Target Center) on the street, because I want to feel the weather and it was cool," Rubio said. "I was knocking the door (outside Target Center) and nobody was helping me. I was like, 'Come on, man! What?'"
He also held court with the media for over 10 minutes, displaying a better grasp of the English language and even more charisma than he displayed during his introductory press conference in June.
Rubio arrived in town earlier in the morning after spending two days in Ottawa sorting out his work visa. Prior to his brief stop in our neighbor to the north, the 21-year-old had spent time in Los Angeles working out with fellow NBA players, because lockout rules prohibited him from coming to the Twin Cities and working at the team's facilities and with the coaching staff.
Rubio worked with Chauncey Billups of the New York Knicks, Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers, Nick Young of the Washington Wizards and NBA legend Reggie Miller, among others.
"There are a lot of good player (I worked with)," Rubio said. "A lot of guys who have a lot of talent."
One player in particular gave Rubio specific advice about playing for Minnesota and acclimating to the weather -- former Wolf Kevin Garnett.
"(Garnett) gave me some advice (where) to live," Rubio said. "He said people over here is really nice, you're going to feel comfortable, the fans are amazing. ... They will support you. They love basketball. They love if you do the right things and work hard. They going to keep supporting you."
Rubio said his mother and girlfriend came with him to help get acclimated to the city and find a place to live. He says he will make a trip to the Mall of America to stock up on winter clothing, although he said he enjoyed seeing snow, since he rarely ever saw it growing up in Spain.
"It is kind of nice at the moment," he said. "We'll see."
One of the biggest aspects of life in the fast-paced NBA Rubio will need to adjust to is the amount of games -- especially in the lockout shortened 66-game jam-packed schedule in 2011-12
"I was looking the schedule and putting it in my iPad and I was saying, '16, 17, 18?' Three games in a row? What the hell?" Rubio said. "I mean, you go Chicago, Sacramento and then (Minneapolis)."
But playing in the NBA has been a dream for Rubio long before he became a YouTube sensation and Spanish national team wunderkind. And he said he isn't going to back down from a more cramped game schedule than he was used to in his six-year career in the Spanish ACB League with Joventut Badalona and Barcelona.
"It is going to be tough," Rubio said, "but I came here to play basketball and enjoy that there are a lot of games, almost four a week, it is going to be amazing playing those games."
The shortened training camp is set to open on Friday once the players union votes and passes the new collective bargaining agreement.
The Wolves will play a home-and-home preseason series with the Milwaukee Bucks before opening their season on Dec. 26 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Rubio knows it isn't much time for a young, new-look team to get ready.
"It is going to be hard because we have a new coach, new players, young players, too. It is going to be hard in the beginning," Rubio said. "Maybe worse for us because we need time to improve, to be together, to put new offense, new defense, new coach.
Although he worked out with his teammates Wednesday, Rubio still has not met or even spoken to new Wolves head coach Rick Adelman. But Rubio said he loves his style of play, referencing the run-and-gun Sacramento Kings that Adelman took from afterthoughts in 1998 to within a game of the NBA Finals in 2002 after some infamous officiating left them at home watching the Lakers raise the trophy.
"I heard a lot of good things about (Adelman)," he said. "That time he was in Sacramento with (Jason) Williams and all those guys. He love to run. I don't talk to (Adelman) yet, but I going to talk to him soon if I can."
The fact that he has yet to meet the coach and has only been in town for a day hasn't stopped him attempting to take on the responsibility of recruiter/player general manger after a discussion with fellow countrymen and Memphis Grizzly Marc Gasol.
"I talked to him and I said if he wants to come I can talk to the coach and the GM because he is real, real good," Rubio said. "I don't know if Memphis is going to let him go but if they do, I dream about him coming here and playing us."