Not many teenage hoopers could show off against a group of the most talented NBA All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. But Ricky Rubio did.
The Spaniard was a part of the team that gave Team USA’s “Redeem Team” a clash for the ages in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was only 18 years old at the time.
Since then, NBA scouts locked their sights on Rubio, who would soon find his way into the league.
Rubio arrives in Minnesota
In 2011, Rubio was determined to prove that his skill set has a place in the world’s most prestigious basketball league. He was in a workout with the Minnesota Timberwolves in Los Angeles when he crossed paths with NBA Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.
Rubio was well aware that Minnesota was once KG’s home and a team where he built a name for himself in the NBA. However, he never expected what “The Big Ticket” would tell him during their first encounter.
According to Rubio, Garnett reassured him that there are no better fans than Minnesota fans, especially when you give them “everything you got.” And after six seasons with the Timberwolves, Rubio saw firsthand that KG was telling the truth.
“KG went on and on about Minnesota and the franchise. He was going in, like: ‘Man, let me tell you. This place, L.A., it’s alright, yeah? But trust me. Trust me. You go to Minny you give those people everything you got? Believe me,” Rubio told The Players’ Tribune in 2019. “They’re gonna give you everything back. Trust. Trust!”
“I couldn’t believe that a player like KG — the NBA champ, the Big Ticket — he’s talking to me and he know my story,” he continued. “I’ll always remember that day. Later, I learned what Wolves fan already knew — KG speaks the truth. He was right about Minny. He was right about the fan base,”
KG comes home
In 2014, Garnett decided to spend the twilight years of his career in his beloved Minnesota. He returned and played two more seasons for the Timberwolves, but this time, alongside Rubio.
Indeed, it was a bittersweet moment for the Spaniard as the 2015/16 season happened to be the final year of KG’s stellar NBA career.
Garnett, a versatile power forward, and Rubio, a flashy point guard, are entirely different in terms of what they do on the basketball court. However, one thing they know they have in common is the love they received from the people of Minnesota.