Rubio Addresses Media For First Time Since Injury

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Ricky Rubio strolled into Target Center in front of a packed media room on Tuesday sporting the same smile Wolves fans have gotten to know so well over the past three months. His demeanor perfectly matched the temperament he showed throughout his rookie season, and he candidly answered reporters’ questions like he had since arriving in Minnesota this offseason.

The only difference on Tuesday were Rubio’s crutches, which have helped the Wolves guard maneuver over the past month.

Rubio addressed the media for the first time on Tuesday since tearing the ACL and LCL ligaments in his left knee on March 9 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He underwent successful knee surgery on March 21 and has begun the road to recovery that lies ahead of him.

But just like his Twitter updates would suggest, Rubio is taking his recovery with a positive attitude. He said he’s doing his best to rehabilitate his knee and come back an even better player than he was before the injury.

“There are a lot of injuries like mine. It’s sad, but it’s part of it,” Rubio said. “You get hurt, but you have to come back hard.”

Dr. Richard Steadman of The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., performed the surgery, and over the past three weeks Rubio has begun his rehabilitation. He returned to Minnesota on Friday and will continue his rehab in Minneapolis with physical therapist Andre Deloya.

Rubio said over the first two weeks of rehab wasn’t able to do anything but bend his knee and make some quad sets. He could bend his knee to 90 degrees and now had moved a little further in the bending process.

The general recovery timetable for Rubio’s injury is six to nine months, but Rubio said for now he is focusing on the progress he can make over the next four weeks before he is able to move without crutches.

“Right now I don’t see any longer than four weeks,” Rubio said. “In four weeks I take these crutches off—start walking a little bit, put some weight on my leg and see what happens.”

In the meantime, Rubio is taking an optimistic approach. He said it’s been hard to watch as the Timberwolves finish the season shorthanded—he watches every game and tweets during most of them—and has gone through a range of emotions about not being able to help the team on the court.

He said it’s been his supporters that have helped him the most.

“It was strange feelings,” he said. "I was sad, I was mad because I was injured. But I was happy to see all the people helping me. People like I never know. Idols for me like Kevin Durant or [Dwyane] Wade, or people from the street telling me, ‘Have a good recovery.’ They’re with me. That helped a lot, too.”

When Rubio suffered his season-ending knee injury in the final moments of March 9’s loss to L.A., he was in the middle of a memorable rookie season that not only made him the talk of the NBA but helped the Wolves move into the playoff hunt. Minnesota was 21-19 heading into that contest, and in the two weeks prior the Timberwolves had jumped in and out of the eighth spot in the West.

Individually, Rubio was enjoying quite a ride. He was invited to play in the Rising Stars Challenge over All-Star Weekend in Orlando, in which he played against the top rookies and sophomores in the NBA. He played in 41 games, starting 31 of them, and averaged 10.6 points per night. His 8.2 assists per game ranked fifth and his 2.22 steals per contest were third in the NBA at the time of his injury.

Rubio led all NBA rookies in assists, minutes and steals while recording 12 point-assist double-doubles, ranking him third in the NBA. His intensity on both ends of the floor and his leadership as a rookie not only ignited the Wolves this season but also instigated national and international attention.

His unique passion and ability on the basketball court caused NBA players across the league not only to praise him before his injury but also to reach out to him afterwards.

He said he didn’t think the injury was as severe as it was when it happened. He said he thought he’d miss a game or two.

“I was thinking about it hurt, but not enough to hurt for 6-8-9 months,” Rubio said. “But when they explained it to me, the injury that I had, I was sad, mad.”

Rubio said he doesn’t know if he’ll be 100 percent at training camp, but the most important thing to him is when he does get on the court again his knee is strong enough to handle it.

“I don’t want to put a date on it,” Rubio said. “When it feels good, we’ll see.”

In the meantime, he said the fans and his teammates have been crucial in helping him each day.

“It was hard but seeing all the Twitter things, the Facebook things and all the media saying good things about me helped me a lot in a tough moment,” Rubio said. “I just want to say thank you to them, thank you to everybody, thank you to the Timberwolves who made me feel a part of the team last night again and they supported me all the time. So I just want to say thank you.”

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