By Jon Carlos RodriguezRicky Rubio, who entered the NBA at the tender age of 21, hasn’t felt any kind of playoff success in his seven-year career. Looks like that’s about to change.
It was another long season for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2013, a team which, despite the high expectations that year, couldn’t quite pull it together. On the last day of February, the Wolves were in a familiar place: down big and facing yet another loss.
Ricky Rubio, a second-year PG prodigy from Spain, was the lone bright spot in a team that already lost Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, and Nikola Pekovic to injuries. They were about to drop their fourth consecutive game, L number 35 of the season.
But Rubio kept the spirits up. Off a timeout, Rubio delivered one of his best passes to Wolves rookie Alexey Shved. It was an assist that should’ve been worth 4 points. Change this face. Be happy. Enjoy!
Watch the highlight here:
Hands down, this is a top 5 Ricky Rubio moment (trash-talking Kobe on winning gold at the Olympics is also on that list). And it seems like Rubio practiced what he preached. Fast forward to 2018, Rubio is enjoying life. He’s peaking at the right time as a member of the Utah Jazz; starring in the first playoff series of his career.
Rubio, who has a career average of 11 points per game, is known more for his playmaking skills, but against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he has uncharacteristically picked up his scoring numbers to bring the Jazz a win away from the conference semifinals.
Game 3 was a breakthrough. With the series tied 1-1, Rubio did something he hadn’t done before, which was lead his team in scoring for a much-needed playoff victory. The pass-first point guard went off-brand and dropped this monster line: 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. Change this face.
His counterpart in OKC, Russell Westbrook, was the guy who’s supposed to come up with this kind of sorcery (his 14-11-9 line isn’t bad either), but Rubio is in a different plane now. He’s averaging 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists per game in his playoff debut. He’s shooting a career-best 35 percent from 3. And Utah holds a 3-1 lead over OKC. In the same night that Rubio notched his career game, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally won their first playoff game in 14 years.
On that night when a young Rubio motivated a younger Shved, the rookie scored 5 points, missing 7 of his 8 shots. Shved has moved on from the NBA and returned to Russia, where he was named the EuroCup MVP last year. Enjoy!
It’s been years, but it looks like Rubio’s words of wisdom are finally paying off.
[thumbnail from NBA; video from YouTube]