Wolves sign Ricky Rubio
Rubio Hosts Build-A-Bear Visit
A whirlwind week for newly minted Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio culminated at the Build-A-Bear store located inside the Mall of America on Sunday. Rubio dealt with an onslaught of fans that greeted him at the airport upon his arrival and continued a six-day tour around the Twin Cities but his biggest challenge might have been convincing a three-year old to shift NBA allegiances.
Rubio waltzed into Build-A-Bear to host a visit for the McPhersons, a family directly affected by the North Minneapolis tornado that destroyed their home in a matter of seconds. As the 20-year old Rubio approached Taj, the young boy showed his basketball fandom by sporting an NBA jersey -- the No. 3 Dwyane Wade Miami Heat uniform.
Rubio and Taj seemed to bond throughout the event, building bears and exchanging fives, which could lead to the young man jumping on the Rubio bandwagon someday. More importantly, the visit helped Taj and the McPhersons escape the daily despair that was caused from the national disaster.
"It's devastating; a lot of homes and people over in North Minneapolis are going through a lot. We end up losing our house and so forth -- it's real stressful," Trevor McPherson explained.
The Wolves partnered with Urban Homeworks, a local project that provided a home for the McPhersons. In addition to a couple of new bears for Taj, the family received Underwater Adventure passes, Nickelodeon Park passes, a Rainforest gift card, and a Visa/Target gift card.
"It's good to see the players come out and take initiative and meet people -- do things with the kids in the community," Trevor McPherson added. "That's a real good thing."
For his first official community event in Minnesota, Rubio was excited to lend a helping hand,”It made me feel much better because sometimes life doesn't go the right way. You have to take a break sometimes, forget what happened and enjoy the good life, you know."
Rubio provided a lasting memory for a young boy and family before heading back to Barcelona this week. The talented 2009 No. 5 overall pick showed all angles to his dynamic personality during his introduction to the Minnesota fan base. However, his most important assists will take place off the court where Rubio has already shined.
Timberwolves.com First Look: Ricky Rubio
After enduring a long international flight, greeting hundreds of fans at the Minneapolis – St. Paul International Airport, mingling with another large group of season ticket holders and corporate partners, there was one thing missing from Ricky Rubio.
One would assume Rubio’s trek from Spain would cause some jetlag or at least the need to regroup before a long week filled with events. The 20-year old flashed smiles for the contingency of season ticket holders at Sopranos, located at the West End in St. Louis Park and then decided to call an impromptu workout session around 8 PM. The Wolves did not host the workout but simply provided a spot for Rubio to feel comfortable inside his new basketball home.
“I came here to play basketball,” Rubio explained. “I like all the things I did but I want to play basketball.”
Rubio and his agent, Jarinn Akanna, who is based out of Los Angeles and worked for the Denver Nuggets, ran a private practice inside the Life Time Fitness Training Center. While sporting the Wolves swag for the first time, the 2009 No. 5 overall pick jumped right onto the floor and warmed up with a dazzling series of ball handling drills. Rubio is masterful when moving up and down the court, using the rock like a yo-yo in a surreal atmosphere that finally dispelled all the rumors that he would never show up in Minneapolis.
A surprised Tony Ronzone reacted, “I’m sitting there on the phones talking to teams and one of my assistants tells me that Ricky is on the floor shooting and I’m just like…that’s tough.” The Wolves assistant general manager added, “You have to love the kid wants to be in the gym and wants to be here and it’s a good start to his career in Minnesota.”
The 6-4 point guard also sweated through shooting drills from mid-range and the 3-point arc, hit jumpers off-the-dribble from both elbows, and practiced free throws intermittently during the hour-plus workout.
This small glimpse into Rubio’s psyche and work ethic should breed excitement into Wolves Nation as the international sensation begins a new chapter to his basketball life.
Oh, and by the way, he took an NBA ball back to the hotel, barely able to relinquish the object that made him a star at 14 years old.