Ricky Rubio returns to play in the NBA after more than a year off | Sports

And Ricky Rubio played again. The Spanish point guard has returned to a basketball court to play his first official game since on December 28, 2021, in a match between the Cavaliers and the New Orleans Pelicans, he suffered the second rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee of his career, after the one suffered in 2012. 13 months ago Ricky lived one of the best moments of his sports career, game director for the Cavs and author of 13.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 6.6 assists in 28 .5 minutes on average in 34 games with the Cavaliers. That effervescence that united the explosiveness of his game, his intelligence and many hours of flight in the NBA was blown up and the Catalan embarked on another long recovery. So long that he has stretched to more than a year, 380 days, all of 2022 watching his teammates in the American League and in the Spanish team from the stands or on television.

The new rebirth of Ricky Rubio occurred this Thursday in the US in the match between the Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers. It was 10m 27s on court, nine points, three rebounds and an assist in his team’s 113-119 victory, above all recovering the sensations he hadn’t enjoyed for a long time. At the age of 32, Ricky begins a new stage in a career that began in the elite with his debut in the ACB in 2005 at the age of 14 and that has taken him to the mecca of basketball in the United States and to the top of the world with Spain. . With many bumps, obstacles and curves in the way.

In Cleveland he is now living his fourth season in the American League after Minnesota, Utah and Phoenix in a transfer that has not always been sweet. Ricky has been one of the many players often used as a bargaining chip between franchises, trading cards that are often distributed regardless of the opinion of travelers. The Spanish lived it in his flesh when in the summer of 2020 he was ready for a new course at the Suns and on the horn they changed his flight ticket for one to Oklahoma. The point guard frowned and the bags finally ended up in Minnesota, his first destination in the NBA. “What a deal,” he then complained when he was used in a trade with Chris Paul. And he lamented: “By signing a contract, you agree to the conditions, but there are ways and ways. Players are privileged, but those who are in charge of these things have to understand that in addition to being players we are also people. It is not a dish of good taste that when you are involved in a project, you leave your skin and you see that you are working, at the first change you have to leave ”.

A new transfer dance sent him to Cleveland while he was playing the Tokyo 2021 Games with Spain, an appointment for which he got on the train at the last minute after having initially renounced Scariolo’s call and finally convinced by his woman for a new adventure with the national team, the farewell part of a unique generation. With the Cavaliers, he earned stripes and, again, the respect of teammates, coaches and rivals, until his left knee creaked in December. In February he was transferred to the Indiana Pacers in a testimonial movement since he was injured for a long time, as part of the trades between the clubs, and in July, already as a free agent, he signed for three seasons and 18.4 million dollars of new with Cleveland, a signing promoted by José Manuel Calderón, Ricky’s former teammate in the national team, former player of the Cavs and today board member of the American team. With that jersey, Rubio has traced a 12-year career in the NBA in which he has played 677 games and has exceeded 5,000 assists. “It has been a long time down. The group really wanted him to come back because we have seen how he has worked physically and mentally very hard this year. For us he is a key player, ”explains Calderón about the resurrection of the point guard.

Ricky told the El Reverso podcast about the difficulty of this new return: “I remember one day, when I arrived at El Masnou two weeks after surgery, I was on crutches and couldn’t go down the stairs of my house. It was five in the morning, with the jetlagged... and I started to cry”.

Ricky, injured with the Cavaliers on December 28, 2021.
Ricky, injured with the Cavaliers on December 28, 2021.Sean Gardner (Getty Images)

His loss also generated an abyss and a movement of land in the Spanish team. Without Ricky, injured at the same time Carlos Alocén and after the resignation of Sergio Rodríguez from the national team after the Tokyo Games, the federation recruited the American Lorenzo Brown as nationalized by express route. The signing came out of pearls and the point guard took the helm of Scariolo’s team in the triumph in the last Eurobasket. Brown’s great sporting performance and his good fit in the dressing room allow the current Maccabi player to strongly oppose the next major international events, the World Cup this 2023 (from August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia). and the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Two assaults to the summit for which Ricky could return at the head of a team that is the current world and European champion, and number one in the FIBA ​​ranking ahead of the United States for the first time in the history. The Catalan base was precisely chosen the best player of the 2019 World Cup in China, his third gold with La Familia after the continental bingos of 2009 and 2011. In his backpack, seven medals in total and 157 international matches.

Ricky also won the Olympic silver medal in Beijing 2008, the first of two unforgettable finals against the NBA stars. He was absent in the 2012 clash, then fell due to that other torn cruciate ligament in his left knee that left him nine months in the dry dock. The same injury from which he has now risen, stronger and more determined, to shine again in the NBA and in the national team.

“Because of its explosiveness, the challenge is greater”

“A year-long injury leaves an obvious mark,” explains Juan Antonio Corbalán, Madrid’s point guard for 16 seasons and today a doctor. “20 years ago it would be almost impossible for Ricky to play at the highest level again due to the type of operations that were done and the recovery. Raül López also suffered two cruciate breaks in the same knee. Today you can continue playing, although it will be necessary to watch that the knee does not swell after training sessions and games, ”adds Corbalán, who points out another twist for the Catalan point guard due to the type of player he is. “For a center, something more static, it would be easier to return to the maximum. For a player like Ricky, with great mobility and explosiveness, the challenge is even greater”.

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook Y Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.