Point guard Ricky Rubio is one of the most hyped and celebrated international players to ever make his way over from a professional league to the NBA. Years in the making, the Spanish wunderkind finally made his basketball debut in the United States over the weekend... in front of roughly 800 people in a 10,000 seat stadium at Drew Gooden's charity exhibition on Sunday night, as Sam Amick reports at SI.com.
If not for the NBA lockout, a glance at Minnesota's canceled schedule shows that Rubio would already have played head-to-head in bustling NBA arenas against the likes of Steve Nash, Deron Williams, Brandon Jennings and Tony Parker.
As it is, Rubio's debut came without much fanfare, though it was for a good cause -- Drew Gooden's Make-A-Wish Charity Game. But Amick also writes that Rubio has been working out and playing in the Los Angeles Valley with the likes of Chauncey Billups, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce -- NBA champions and some of the game's most respected and fiercest competitors of the last decade.
"Playing with those guys is like a dream come true," Rubio said. "They're the best players in the world and you are part of them. You can talk to them, pass to them. I'm feeling good over there.
"I've been playing with confidence, because for four years I've been getting pressure from the fans, the media. But there, nobody has an opinion. You just play and nobody has an opinion. You play free, can make mistakes and nobody is going to say nothing. I could gain some confidence from that."
Like many players, Rubio might play in Europe if the NBA lockout is not resolved, saying that he will go in January if it is decided that there is no NBA season. And while many NBA players have offered similar sentiments, there is little reason to doubt that Rubio would go and play in his native Spain.