Minnesota gives Rubio warm airport welcome

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 21, 2011 - 11:21 AM

Point guard Ricky Rubio arrived in Minnesota - almost exactly two years after he was drafted - to the delight of the Timberwolves faithful.

Almost exactly two years in the making, Ricky Rubio finally arrived in Minnesota on Monday as a member of the Timberwolves, welcomed at the airport after a trans-Atlantic flight by fans carrying signs, holding a Spanish flag and offering a fresh fruit bouquet.

Team mascot Crunch, Wolves cheerleaders, many team employees, media members and fans -- an estimated 200 people -- gathered outside U.S. customs and greeted Rubio and his family when they arrived.

Wolves president of basketball operations David Kahn escorted Rubio through the crowd. If you didn't know better, you'd almost say that was a smirk on Kahn's face as he guided Rubio, who wore a black sport coat, white shirt, jeans and Wolves cap.

He will be officially introduced in a Tuesday morning news conference at Target Center, where he will play his first NBA game this fall if the league owners and players reach a new labor agreement by then.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it," he later told the team's timberwolves.com website after he landed about the prospect of playing his first NBA game. "I can't wait for that day to come. Since you are a kid, you imagine you're playing on NBA Live on PSP or you see Kobe Bryant or something and you want to be over there one day. You just dream about that and never think it's going to come, and now I can do that."

Rubio signed autographs and exchanged hand slaps with fans as he was led to black limo-like van waiting curbside. The van's corporate slogan on its side seemed appropriate: "Exceeding expectations."

This is Rubio's second visit to Minnesota. Rubio and his father quietly flew into town for several hours two days after the team drafted him at age 18 in June 2009.

"He was young then and it was a whirlwind," Wolves assistant general manager Tony Ronzone said. "He'll be able to come now and say, 'This is my team. This is my new family. This is my state, where I'm going to live.' His eyes are wide open and appreciative to what he sees in his surroundings."

This time, he's staying a week. He'll join new teammate Wes Johnson at the team's Thursday night draft party during his visit to the Twin Cities, which will last about a week. During that time, he will tour the city and meet with team sponsors and season-ticket holders, who likely will greet him as enthusiastically as Monday's airport crowd did.

"It's nice when you walk in your house and your family's excited to see you," Ronzone said. "When you walk in and your family's not excited, it's not good."

Counting down

Three days away from the draft, Ronzone was asked Monday morning if he still expects the team to select a player with the No. 2 overall pick and keep him rather than make a trade.

"Anything can happen, but right now we're going to keep 2," he said. "We like 2."

The Wolves own the second and 20th pick Thursday night. They are believed to be seeking a trade that would send that second pick and perhaps other assets away for a young center and a pick later in the first round.


• The team will hold its final pre-draft workouts Tuesday with a five-player group that includes UCLA guard Malcolm Lee and Kentucky guard DeAndre Liggins. The only player Ronzone said he had hoped to see but didn't was Georgia Tech guard Iman Shupert, who withdrew because of an injury. San Diego State's Kahwi Leonard also cancelled because he is expected to be taken after the Wolves' second pick and long before their 20th pick.

• Doors for Thursday's free Target Center draft party will open at 5:30 p.m.

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Timberwolf Ricky Rubio arrives in Minnesota

    Monday June 20, 2011

    Timberwolf Ricky Rubio arrives in Minnesota

  • 2011 NBA draft info

    Monday June 20, 2011

    2011 DRAFTWhen: 6 p.m. ThursdayWhere: Newark, N.J.TV: ESPNWolves in the first round: Own picks No. 2 and No. 20 (from...

  • Rand: Rubio latest version of Minny-mania

    Tuesday June 21, 2011

    The newest Timberwolf isn't the first Minnesota athletic figure to cause a stir with his arrival.

  • Minnesota Timberwolves Ricky Rubio was all smiles in his first press c...

  • Ricky Rubio

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Pittsburgh - LP: F. Liriano 0 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: J. Cueto 4
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Odorizzi 0 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: M. Gonzalez 3
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Hammel 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: W. Peralta 5
NY Mets - WP: D. Gee 5 FINAL
Arizona - LP: B. McCarthy 2
Atlanta - WP: J. Teheran 1 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: C. Lee 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 2
Cleveland - WP: Z. McAllister 3 FINAL
Detroit - LP: A. Sanchez 2
Washington - WP: D. Storen 6 FINAL
Miami - LP: M. Dunn 3
Seattle - LP: F. Rodney 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: P. Figueroa 3
Boston - WP: C. Capuano 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: L. Garcia 4
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 6 FINAL
Houston - LP: J. Williams 4
Toronto 0 Postponed
Minnesota 0
Oakland - LP: D. Pomeranz 4 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Smith 5
Colorado - LP: J. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 4
Los Angeles - LP: J. Howell 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 2
Chicago 86 FINAL
Charlotte 91
Indiana 101 FINAL
Orlando 86
Atlanta 111 FINAL
Milwaukee 103
Dallas 105 FINAL
Memphis 106
Detroit 111 FINAL
Oklahoma City 112
Houston 100 FINAL
New Orleans 105
LA Lakers 113 FINAL
San Antonio 100
Brooklyn 85 FINAL
Cleveland 114
Philadelphia 100 FINAL
Miami 87
Utah 136 FINAL
Minnesota 130
Washington 118 FINAL
Boston 102
Toronto 92 FINAL
New York 95
Golden State 116 FINAL
Denver 112
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Portland 110
Phoenix 104 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Montreal 5 FINAL(OT)
Tampa Bay 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 4
Dallas 3 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Grade the Timberwolves season

Weekly Question