Rubio’s Rehab Progresses Through Doubts
In a recent interview with Marca.com, Ricky Rubio discussed his ACL injury that occurred on March 9. When he planted his foot and his knee buckled before a collision with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, the good vibes around the Minnesota Timberwolves were crumpled on the Target Center floor with him. To make matters worse, the injury occurred in the final seconds of the game. While Rubio puts on a brave face in public, of course, he was devastated.
“Not only could I lose, but I said, ‘This cannot be happening to me,’” Rubio said. “Is typical of what you see other players who are seriously hurt and you think you are not going to play ever. Then I started thinking positive. I thought of the players who had gone through something similar, even some that I thought I called or wrote me an email. They said, ‘I had this injury and you already see me and I played after the NBA.’ I thought about how I’m going to recover, so I would lose and would remain the same, if it could be Ricky again.”
During those darkest of days for Rubio, there was one thing that helped keep his spirits up or, at least gave him the added boost to continue on the difficult journey to good health: his fans. His fans around the world took to Twitter to send him get well messages and it meant a lot to the Timberwolves rookie.
“The fans treated me very well through social networks,” said Rubio. “They gave me a rush and I came up. I felt very loved. I could only think to recover to return to the court and try to make happy those people who both love me, let them enjoy. I want to give back the love you gave me at the time, although it will be difficult.”
It may be the NBA offseason, but Rubio has a long road to recovery. There is no offseason for him, but Rubio is already into the swing of things, creating a schedule to get back on track. He’s also taking advantage of the opportunity to get to know his surroundings better in Minnesota, making impromptu appearances all over town as well as attending quite a few games of the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx.
“I get up early,” said Rubio. “After nine or nine thirty, am going to rehab. I’m half an hour or two. I do two sessions a day, morning and afternoon. The aim is to bend the leg, trying to catch in the quadriceps muscle. Then, as it does good in Minneapolis, I take for a walk and go out to eat at a restaurant close to home. In the afternoon, I have another session where I work the upper body with weights. Now it is extending the knee. Little by little we are moving forward. The day is much recovery work and some leisure to know a city and a state that I’m finding now because the season had failed.”
While Rubio is progressing well in his rehabilitation efforts, there are still challenges to overcome. They are both physical and mental, but he continues to push through the pain and doubts when they may begin to creep back into his mind.
“The truth is I never thought it was so difficult,” said Rubio. “It’s been a little harsh. You have to fight hard, endure the pain to move on and get more range of flexion. You have to push, while it hurts and do not want to push, but have to.”
After Rubio’s injury, the Timberwolves essentially collapsed, but he doesn’t think that his knee was the only reason. Of course, basketball is a team game where there are many factors in the success or failures of the squad, but when he went down for the season, he saw some things from the sideline he believes need to be addressed.
“The team had a physical and mental slump,” said Rubio. “Pekovic was playing injured and had surgery. Kevin Love could not play the latest games. Ridnour did the same. He did a little of everything. Yes, it may be that the decline started with my injury, but then there was a physical and mental downturn was widespread.”
While rehabbing, Rubio has had a lot of time to think over his rookie season in the NBA. His first season in the NBA may have ended on a sour note, but the overall experience was good Rubio. Most importantly, he found a mental comfort level on the court again that he hadn’t possessed in his last season overseas.
“I learned a lot,” said Rubio. “I enjoy basketball again, something I could not do in the last year in Europe. It was when I had no confidence in myself. The truth is that I suffered enough. In the NBA, I have returned to smile on a basketball court and this feeling was nice. Then I had another obstacle. It’s not something that can overcome right now, I need time and extra care to recover well, but with effort can regain the level of before.”
Rubio is doing all he can to return to his fine level of play in order to help his Timberwolves team improve next season. Those questions of whether or not he can fully return from his ACL injury creep into his mind from time-to-time when things get difficult in the rehabilitation process, but Rubio fights through and has plans for both his individual future in the NBA, as well as for his team.
“Of course there are doubts on how to return,” said Rubio. “I think if I can physically return to the level that was either required by the NBA. There are concerns and doubts, but I forget when I return to rehabilitation or training. They dissipate and I think I can be the same or even better.”
If Ricky Rubio returns as a better player, no matter when that may be for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the good vibes that filled Target Center in the 2011-12 season will return in 2012-13.