Part of the allure of being an NBA fan is the hype that surrounds it’s star players wherever they go. Whether it’s in a game, a commercial, a club & or a simply seeing the game’s best players in any off the court setting, they draw attention. So many of the game’s premier players (Dwight Howard) love the spotlight, and all the affection & endorsements that comes with it. They feed off the accolades they receive from fans all over the world. Some star players ignore the aura constantly surrounding them and focus on ball (D Rose & Kevin Durant), while some try and force the issue and portray an image that isn’t real (LeBron James).
Then, there are those who would prefer to fly under the radar, and just be one of the guys. Ricky Rubio would fit that mold. The child prodigy has been in the spotlight since he was throwing no look passes as a 15 year old in the Spanish ACB league.
Now, Rubio is a 21 year old wise beyond his years both on and off the court. He is proving to be one of the association’s most exciting players despite this early stage in his development. Rubio has only played 9 games, but he is defining the “it” factor.
When certain athletes like Tom Brady & Derek Jeter come up in discussions with friends, you end up saying something along the lines of…”he’s just got it, man.” Rubio has that kind of charisma.
The smooth and creative point guard is still in the infant stages of his NBA life, but you can tell he possesses all of the qualities of what a true star player should be. He’s humble, coachable & has the respect of teammates and opposing players. He’s putting Derrick Williams on the nightly highlight reels with his pinpoint alley-oop passes that make the “lob city” Clippers jealous. His arrival in the Twin cities has given Kevin Love a new lease on life, and a reason to re-sign with the Timberwolves. He’s also helped make Michael Beasley a team player, and convinced him to stop jacking up bad shots. That’s a complete lie, but I had to see what that sentence would look like once I wrote it. He can’t work those kind of miracles this quickly.
What Rubio has also done is give a basketball lifers like myself another must see performer, and a reason to pop for the NBA league pass. He reminds me of a more controlled Jason Williams. No, not the one who wrapped his bike around a streetlight…The other one. You find yourself jumping out of your seat when he drives to the hoop, or throws a Magic Johnson like pass. Those precision passes have a flair about them, just like his entire game. And unlike J-Will, Rubio has the basketball IQ of a 12 year vet. I never got to see “Pistol’ Pete Maravich other than YouTube highlights, but you can see that resemblance too. And you have to make the Steve Nash comparison, but I’ll argue Rubio will prove to be the more complete player in time.
A selfless, talented, non egomaniac is a rare trait among NBA stars, and it will be something to revel in while you watch him match up with Derrick Rose Tuesday night. The one hand passes catch peoples attention, but the aura and self assurance he’s displaying in the best basketball league on the planet shows he’s a different kind of cat.
There are also very few players anymore who I would spend top dollar to go and see. Plus, There aren’t many who can captivate a moribund fan base in Minnesota like Rubio has. That matters in a town that doesn’t fashion itself as a basketball city. He is a prototype talent, and also someone who hoop fans will have the “it” factor discussion with for the duration of his career.