Rubio on his new coach, new time, new life in the USA

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • November 6, 2011 - 1:47 AM

While we wait for this afternoon’s 3 p.m. Twin Cities time resumption of NBA labor talks that could go nowhere fast if a small but adamant faction of players really is serious about dissolving their union…

I talked by phone with Ricky Rubio from L.A. on Friday afternoon.

You can find the story I wrote for Saturday’s paper and the web site here.

And here’s lots of stuff that never made it into the piece.

·         * Yes, a good part of his daily two-a-day workouts do include shooting instruction.

“I work a lot on my shooting because I know it is one of my weakness and I work on it,” he said. “I’m working hard every day to improve and to be ready.”

Fellow rookie Enes Kanter played with Rubio in L.A. last month and sent out a tweet then that basically said Minnesota fans won’t have to worry about his shooting being an issue. We’ll see, hopefully sooner rather than later.

·         * I asked him what he knows about his new coach, Rick Adelman.

“I heard a lot of things,” he said. “I couldn’t talk with him because of the lockout, but I heard he bring Sacramento Kings to the finals of the conference. He has a great, great NBA career, so he’s a great coach. For me, it’s good that guys like Jason Williams, they play really, really good when they play for him. It will be amazing to play for him.”

Interesting that he brought up Williams because of the similarities between the two players and their situations. Some have compared Rubio’s creative game to Williams’. Like Rubio, Williams was a rookie point guard when Adelman took the Kings’ job in a strike-shortened 1998-99 season.

Williams averaged 12.8 points, 6 assists, 1.9 steals in his rookie season and played three seasons for  Adelman before the Kings traded him to Vancouver/Memphis for Mike Bibby.

“Every player is different from the other one, there is not two players the same,” he said when I asked about the comparisons. “I learn a lot from a lot of point guards and one of them was Jason Williams because he was making those crazy passes. It was fun to watch him.

“I’m a point guard. My goal is that all five players are playing the same way, trying to stay together and trying to make them better. A point guard is the guy who brings the ball and try to know and guess which is the best option in the right moment. It is hard to know. You learn from a lot of things and every game is different.

“In every game, you have to find the way to win the game. Sometimes, you have to make plays for the center, sometimes for the forward, sometimes for myself. The goal is to win the game. That’s what the point guard has to transmit to his teammates."

·        * He left home in Barcelona to L.A. a month ago because he said he needed to play with NBA players before his first NBA season begins and L.A. is where the players are. And where would you rather spend October and November, here or there?

He’s explored Southern California by car from Malibu to Santa Monica and hit Hollywood Boulevard on Halloween night.

“The traffic here is crazy, traffic all the time,” he said. “You don’t know when you will arrive. At night, it might be 20 minutes and in the morning, it might be an hour, an hour and a half.”

Is it worse than Barcelona?

“I don’t know, it’s even I think,” he said. “Barcelona, in the morning, you can’t get to Barcelona city, downtown. Barcelona, I know better than L.A. If the traffic is bad, I can go another way than the freeway. Here, I have to go freeway because I don’t know the other way. For me, it’s easier to drive here because the streets are bigger.”

·         * He has talked with pal Kevin Love since he’s been here in the U.S., but hasn’t spent time with any other new Timberwolves teammates while he’s been in L.A.

“I would love to talk with all the guys, but I don’t have their number,” he said. “I will soon.”

He did play with a bunch of them – Love, Beasley, Randolph, Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Martell – for a week around draft time at Target Center. Included in that time was two days spent working with Randolph.

“The first two days I was with him, and it was amazing throwing him the ball,” Rubio said. “He would catch no matter where you passed. He make an assist from a bad pass. From a bad pass, he make an assist. That will help me play well.”

·         * He has played with a variety of NBA players – everyone from Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Nick Young and Ryan Hollins – in workouts, whoever shows up that day to train.

He said he needed to come here this fall so he could see, feel, watch how NBA players play and understand how the game is different than the European game.

“In the end, it’s basketball,” he said. “But here, it’s different. Here, it’s more physical. The contact here is more allowed. Not more allowed, but harder. The hands are quicker and you have to be ready when you penetrate to protect the ball.”

* One guy he hasn’t seen but would love to play with and against: Steve Nash

“I never played with Steve Nash,” he said. “I would love to play against him. I think I can learn a lot of things from him.”


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