There was no miracle. Occam’s Razor Principle says that lThe simplest explanation is usually the most likely and, unfortunately, that was the case since Ricky Rubio was struck down at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, with 140 seconds remaining in an already damned game for the Spanish base, a Pelicans-Cavaliers in which he had started at full speed (10 of the first 15 points of his team) and in which he had 27 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists when he was injured. He was trying to avoid the collapse of his team and the comeback of the Pelicans, when in a penetration he slipped and fell on the free throw line. He was trying to get past Devonte ‘Graham, which he missed, and his knee twisted in an unnatural movement. His gestures of pain were immediate. He left without resting his knee, helped by his companions. And a veteran like Kevin Love showed up later, after being in the locker room and seeing Ricky and the Cavs staff, absolutely devastated.

Occam’s Razor, although there was a hope, almost a miracle pending the tests at the Cleveland Clinis Sports Health Center. But the reality was what it was, stubborn: a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament of the left knee. The worst omen, also the most likely after seeing the play and everything that happened afterwards. On December 28, in New Orleans, a new chapter in Ricky Rubio’s career opened, in this case unfortunately. One that goes back to March 9, 2012, when he suffered the same injury in his rookie season. He played for the Timberwolves, also alongside Kevin Love (who was out that day), and defended Kobe Bryant in a game against the Kobe Lakers … and Pau Gasol. Months later, Pau was at the London Games but Ricky couldn’t. That injury had him stopped until December 15, when he returned to play for the Wolves. More than nine months after his last game.

There are not many cases in the NBA of the same cruciate ligament injury as the same knee. The Jeff Stotts Database, one of the most complete sources of information when it comes to injuries in the NBA, only collects two cases: Michael Redd and Jabari Parker. They both played again, neither of them fully. There are many more cases of injury to both knees, or mishaps before (institute, College …) and during the professional career. And, of course, there are also other players in the past who also had terrible knee problems. It is impossible not to remember Danny Manning, the number 1 in the 1988 draft and a prodigy who could not reach where he was aiming but who, at least, has been eHe is the only one capable of retiring playing, on the slopes, after three crusader operations.

Ricky is 31 years old and the normal thing is that he has already turned 32 (on October 21) the next time I step on a basketball court. He is a veteran in the NBA, in which he is in his eleventh season, a League in which he amasses numbers that place him among the truly good point guards in a competition that is now 75 years old. His career goes further, of course, and it makes us everlasting because He made his debut in the ACB without turning 15 years (14, 11 months, 24 days) on October 15, 2005. At 17 he was the starter of an Olympic final, and not just any: that Spain-USA in Beijing which is by far the best game in the history of FIBA ​​basketball. With 20 he had won the Euroleague, FIBA ​​Eurocup, ULEB, ACB, Cup and Super Cup. And with 21 and 66 days he debuted in the NBA with Wolves who received him like a rock star.

So if something is not lacking for Ricky Rubio, it is perspective, view. And his first message after knowing the severity of the injury links with Kobe Bryant, another who dedicated his career to overcome adversity to keep playing, to keep winning: “You always have to move on. Forever. At some point, the storm ends”.

A tremendous blow for the Cleveland Cavaliers

This injury, right now, is certainly a tremendous blow to Ricky. Also for his Cavs, the team in which he had basically unexpectedly regained his smile and enthusiasm, where he was playing at one of the best levels of his entire life in the NBA. For many, the best since that rookie season that stopped the first knee injury, in which he averaged more than 10 points and 8 assists per night and finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting, behind Kyrie Irving. The Cavs were his fourth team in four years (Jazz, Suns, Wolves, Cavaliers). He reached a theoretically low franchise in what was his third transfer in nine months (from Phoenix to OKC, thence express to Minnesota and finally to Ohio). He discovered the movement in Tokyo, at the Games, and publicly showed his tiredness with the NBA system, one in which millions rain but in which you can pack suitcases any day. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Ricky, with a salary of 17.8 million dollars, closes this season the contract of three that he signed with Phoenix Suns in 2019 (51 million in total). And in the summer, if there is no news, he will go on the market as a free agent. So, for many, Cleveland was a temporary destination, surely fleeting for Ricky: the winter market smelled like exit since, in theory, he was going to be for work and the Cavaliers weren’t going to risk him leaving in the summer to change nothing. In theory.

But the reality has been quite different: general manager Koby Altman and coach, JB Bickerstaff, welcomed Ricky with open arms, They treated him like a strategic signing and gave him veteran stripes, in the locker room and on the court., to help redirect the situation of a franchise that was looking for itself since LeBron’s second exit, in the summer of 2018. One that has become the revelation of the season and a team that was heading straight for the playoffs from the East … at least until misfortunes have struck him on all sides.

The Cavs have found their future in point guard Darius Garland (21, No. 5 in the 2019 draft) and center Evan Mobley (20, No. 3 in the last draft). Alongside them, other young bets are working, especially center Jarrett Allen (23 years old) but also Lauri Markkanen (24) and Isaac Okoro (20, number 5 in 2020). Collin Sexton (22 years old), the first star project to come after LeBron’s departure, suffered a meniscus injury in November that left him out for the entire season, but is in any case one less player strategic than Garland and Mobley. Then the pandemic has worsened, as in many other franchises, and now the Cavs are left without Ricky.

It is a sensitive casualty. Because of his presence as a veteran stabilizer, the role he shares with Kevin Love, his old teammate in Minnesota and the only survivor in Ohio from the 2016 ring. A player, the Californian power forward, who has also risen this season after being missing the last two. But also, and this is the most important thing, for its production on the track. Ricky was averaging 13.1 points (identical to the peak of his career, in the 2017-18 season with the Jazz) and 6.6 assists. He played almost 29 minutes a night, usually as a substitute but as a starter when necessary. One way or another, he played a lot and was on court in the minutes hot. Usually next to Garland to give cohesion and fluidity to the tall ball, that basketball big Contrastilo that was working to Bickerstaff and that seems to go against the current NBA, with three rooks as Markkanen (2.11), Allen (2.08) and Mobley (2.11).

Ricky was the glue, the cohesion, the traffic guard. With him on the court, filling in spaces and reading moves, Garland could focus on being more aggressive as a scorer, doing the things he does best and forgetting about the rest. The young point guard, who is aiming for the All Star, is going to miss Ricky a lot: the two together on the track had a net rating of +16.1 in 512 minutes. No pair in the NBA had a better data than those that accumulate more than 500 minutes on the court.

A Eurobasket summer … and a new contract

So Ricky, when even a possible return to Europe was suspected for the next season, I had found a home, a role and a team: I was happy. The injury is cruel, after so much transfer and so much feeling of instability. Also if you think about the National Team, of which Ricky Rubio has been the clear leader in the last two championships, where he has played the best basketball of his life: the 2019 World Cup, champion and MVP, and the past Tokyo Games. Altman and Bickerstaff told him they wanted to see “Ricky from the Spanish National Team” in the Cavs., and surely there was, at the time, no better message for a player with doubts, the gesture understandably crooked. The way things had gone, the wheel had turned and what seemed like a short stint for the Cavs smelled like a new contract. The team wanted to continue counting on Ricky and the point guard had legitimate reasons for wanting to stay, under the command of a Bickerstaff with whom he understood wonderfully and with a young core He seems capable of growing to the highest level in the NBA. In Cleveland, in fact, there are voices calling for a renewal even after the injury. Those who do, trust that Ricky can come back and contribute in the same areas that he was doing.

Contract analysts valued his performance in this course at the estimate for a player with a salary of $ 19.8 million, up from $ 17.8 million. And the mathematics spoke of a new contract in the summer of two years and 41.5 million. A fantastic setting for Ricky, although that math does not have to marry, in the real world, with the law of the market. It could be more total money with more years added, it could be less until we hit a one-season deal … We didn’t know before the injury and we don’t know now, but in the Cleveland press they suggest a two-year offer and about $ 25 million would be a good move for the Cavs, even after this serious injury. It’s a good starting perspective for Ricky, however things go.

For the Spanish team, this injury is also a setback, just when the hope that Ricky would lead the team in the next Eurobasket 2022 (September 1-18) was emerging. His presence, which after the Games seemed ruled out, was once again an option, as reported by AS. Carlos Jiménez, new team manager Absolutely, she was counting on talking to him, at the very least. In FEB they know that Ricky is happy with Sergio Scariolo, who gave him command of the team and released his best version, as he himself recognized: “I think it was the summer of 2019 in which I consolidated myself as a great star in the National Team after years not in the shadows but helping other players to shine individually“Even in the best timeframes, those nine months that he was out of action in 2012, the Eurobasket is out of Ricky’s range of action, which will surely take longer than that to get back on the slopes this time. The question, in any case, is that he does it, as soon as possible and above all to the wonderful level he was at before that damn night in New Orleans. The countdown has already begun. It has already fallen, it is already getting up. As he always says himself, never too high, never too low.

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