Ricky Rubio's Road To Recovery: Part III
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After eight months of rehabilitation, Ricky Rubio’s path back to the court is nearly complete.
Now, the next challenge begins.
As Rubio prepares to participate in his first NBA game since suffering torn anterior cruciate and lateral collateral ligaments in his left knee March 9 against Los Angeles, the process continues. His knee has passed the physical tests presented through the rehab process, but going out and playing live ball in the league is a whole different task.
Rubio was officially cleared to play this morning and is expected to play tonight against the Mavericks. Mentally and physically, Rubio will be tested.
“The biggest challenge for Ricky that he’s going to face is once you get on the court, everything doesn’t go as smoothly as you always think,” assistant coach Terry Porter said.
“There are still going to be hurdles that he’s going to have to get over, how he responds to certain things. The mental part is going to be a big challenge for him. It’s going to be a two-part thing: The mental and the physical that every day he’s going to have to work through, after every game work through the check points, see how his body felt.”
Rubio knows it. Throughout the process the Wolves and his medical staff have been very cautious about his progress and how he’s responding to his next test. He’s been reportedly on pace or exceeding expectations throughout, but the Wolves are adamant that taking a cautious approach is important in keeping the focus on Rubio’s long-term health.
That’s not always an easy thing to do.
“I learned a lot,” Rubio said. “I learned how to be patient. It’s hard when you’re reaching your goal you wanted to do more, but sometimes It’s not what your knee needs. So it’s been a good experience, but it’s been a lot of time where you feel frustration, you feel like you want to play but you can’t.”
Rubio was cleared to play full-contact basketball in late November, and he began doing so Dec. 2 at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center. He’s tested himself conditioning-wise, worked extra after practices and before games and continued to make progress toward his season debut.
Porter has been there working with him. One thing that stood out to him is how Rubio approaches each day and the work ethic he continues to show.
Every day, Porter said Rubio has tested himself and tried to find a way to make himself better than the day before.
“He’s had a great attitude,” Porter said. “Every day he wants to do more things that challenge him and get him closer to the ultimate goal, which is to get on the court, help this team win games and be successful this year.”
Rubio’s work ethic stems from a deep drive to return—to lob those alley-oops, to see opportunities other can’t and to bring that fiery defensive edge that helped the Wolves so much last season.
It’s been a long road, but Rubio is nearing that first game back.
“My knee is healed now, but after eight months it’s not easy to come back and play again,” Rubio said. “It’s going to take time, but I’m going to try to be patient, which I don’t think I’m going to be able.”