A moment of silence, please, in memory of Ricky Rubio’s 2011-12 season.
After Rubio suffered an injury in Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves fans held their collective breath, and the Human YouTube Highlight Clip got another video added to his virtual collection – one that La Pistola certainly never wanted to see.
Yesterday, the team was forced to announce that Rubio in fact had torn his left ACL, an injury that ends his NBA season with a surprising Timberwolves side who’d gotten as high as no. 8 in the Western Conference. Worse yet for international hoops fans, Rubio will miss the entire 2012 Olympic Games, a bit of blow to Team Spain.
National team head coach Sergio Scariolo was quoted on Saturday morning as stating that “I woke up to the bad news this morning, although there remains the slight hope that it isn’t too serious.” Of course, it ultimately was.
Spain-based website Te Interesa contemplates Sergio Scariolo’s moves for the Olympics, with Jose Calderon suddenly thrust from a platoon role to full-time starter. The website also reckons that Real Madrid’s Sergio Llull might be shifted to the no. 2 spot, while Team Spain will certainly have to deemphasize the playmaker role – the latter of which BiE figures is a strategy tantamount to death in international ‘ball.
(And now conspiracists and Kobe Bryant detractors may rerun the above clip to check for signs of remorse from the Black Mamba, with whom Rubio collided to sustain his injury. Surely the famously Jordanesquely-competitive wasn’t acting in retribution for the Spaniard’s trash talking of a couple months ago…?)
(Update: Via BallisLife.com, here’s some unseen footage of what really happened during the accidental (?) collision during Kobe’s drive to the hoop. Chilling stuff.)
So what of the Timberwolves, still sporting premier big man Kevin Love and the suddenly awesome Nikola Pekovic, now? Naturally the club atmosphere is characterized by local media as “stunned and somber,” but ESPN TrueHoop blog A Wolf Among Wolves still likes the team’s chances to squeak into the playoffs, at least.
“…it just sucks we can’t continue to see [Rubio] galvanize this franchise and fan base anymore this season. But there is still a season left to play. There are 25 games left and I would imagine these guys aren’t just going to give up. Kevin Love has been on a tear like we’ve rarely seen in this game. Nikola Pekovic is flanking him inside and ready to continue to dish out punishment for anybody unfortunate enough to draw him as a defensive assignment. And Luke Ridnour will now swing back from the do-whatever-his-coach-asks-of-him role player to the playmaker we saw in Seattle and Milwaukee.
“The team is still in the thick of the playoffs race. Houston is without Kyle Lowry for a bit as he nurses a strained groin. Portland is in shambles right now and could go through some big changes on the roster. And Utah … well we don’t really know what they’re doing either, but Devin Harris is heavily involved.”
On the other hand, ESPN’s Marc Stein isn’t quite so optimistic, answering the question “Will the Wolves make the playoffs?” with “I badly want to say yes. I want to believe that the K-Love Express and a NBA Coach of the Year-worthy job from Rick Adelman can drag them into the postseason. Struggling to talk myself into it, though. The Wolves are already ahead of freefalling Portland, so the Blazers’ chaos doesn’t help much. Don’t see Dallas’ free fall since the All-Star break lasting forever, so it’ll probably come down to Minnesota and old friend Kevin McHale’s Rockets for that last spot … unless Phoenix keeps trending up.”
When the news broke, condolences quickly tweeted in from his fellow NBA players, including Team Spain teammates Pau Gasol, Greivis Vasquez, Rudy Fernandez and Jose Calderon, plus Lebron James, Stephen Curry, Baron Davis, Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Anthony Tolliver, and Dwyane Wade. BallinEurope also offers a “get well soon” Ricky’s way.
Rubio’s Los Rojos compadre Pau told the Los Angeles that an ACL injury to his buddy puts things vis-à-vis the seemingly imminent trade in perspective for him.
While BiE had planned a traditional video roundup typically broken out ‘round here when something of this magnitude happens, the NBA itself was quick to produce a nice highlight clip of the most exciting debut this side of Linsanity in America.
To this, BiE will also add his wishes of “¡Que te mejores pronto!” to Rubio and “best of luck” to the ‘Wolves and Rojos … both may need it against tough fields and grueling schedules.