Befitting a place he calls "MinneSNOWta" on Twitter and an NBA season delayed, new Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio bypassed the skyway on his first day to work Wednesday and chose to walk outside to Target Center because he wanted to feel the winter weather -- and found himself symbolically locked out.
"I was knocking the door and nobody was opening," he said, "and I was like, 'C'mon, man ... ' "
He eventually entered, and it was a strange sight indeed to see him walk down an arena hallway toward the Wolves locker room and shoot in the team's practice facility downstairs a little later.
Yes, he really is here.
"I've been waiting for this time to come here to practice at Target Center a long, long time," he said. "So I'm ready."
He looked for an apartment Wednesday morning, then chatted with his new teammates and worked out lightly in the afternoon, after stopping on his way from Los Angeles to Minnesota in Ottawa, Canada, to obtain an American work visa.
Training camp opens Friday. The regular season starts 17 days after that.
In that short time, he must acclimate to a new, strange, cold land and a lockout-shortened season that will fire 66 games at him in only four months.
"Yesterday, I was looking at the schedule and putting it in my iPad and I was saying, '16 ... 17 ... 18,' " he said. "I mean, three games in a row? What the hell? You go Sacramento, Chicago and then here. It's going to be tough, but I came here to play basketball, to enjoy that there are a lot of games -- almost four per week -- and it's going to be amazing playing those games."
One of the first things he noticed in that schedule: The Wolves won't play at Boston, New York, Miami and Chicago because of the unbalanced scheduled required for that 66-game season. That means no trip to Madison Square Garden, where he has dreamed of playing.
He faces fellow point guards Russell Westbrook, Brandon Jennings, Jason Kidd, Tony Parker, John Wall and Derrick Rose in the season's first two weeks alone.
"All the NBA teams have a point guard who is great," Rubio said. "It's going to be tough, but I'm going to love it."
He will have to adjust to such a challenge nearly every night during his rookie season.
He already is growing accustomed to American life now that he spent the past two months in Los Angeles, working out against Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion, Joakim Noah, Nick Young and others so he could learn a little about the NBA game.
His mother and girlfriend are with him to help with the transition. Other family members are coming for Christmas, and some friends might visit later. He expects his family to move here next season, when his teenage sister will attend high school here.
"Don't be mad at me, I prefer the Spanish food because I love it," he said. "But over here you can do a lot of things. Things are bigger. If you buy chips, it's like a big box of chips. I really like the way people live here. They are so nice. People try to help you all the time."
In Los Angeles, he was, for the first time in many years, just another face in the sunny crowd, able to go where and when he pleased as long as he could navigate the sprawling freeway system.
"It was great, I went to shopping mall or whatever and nobody was stopping me asking for something or just to say hello," said Rubio, who was a teenage sensation in Spain ever since he first played professionally at age 14. "I prefer it that way, a normal person who can go to the cinema and go everywhere and nobody stop you. I really loved it."
In MinneSNOWta, he must navigate that skyway system with eyes on him every step, at least if he discovers the kind of NBA success he hopes to find.
"You know, in the skyways make it easier," he said. "I have to learn about where they are going. Yesterday, I came here and it was like freezing. It's nice to see some snow in the street because I'm from Barcelona and I never see a lot of snow there. It's kind of nice, at the moment."Notes
• The Wolves officially announced Rick Adelman's coaching staff. The only surprise: Former Michigan State star Shawn Respert will join Adelman's son David as player development coaches. Terry Porter, Jack Sikma, T.R. Dunn and Bill Bayno will be assistant coaches. Adelman's son R.J. was named director of player personnel/game preparation. The Wolves have swapped advance scouts with Houston. Brent Haskins went with Kevin McHale and J.B. Bickerstaff to the Rockets last summer and Pat Zipfel comes to the Wolves.
• Sacramento expects to sign Chuck Hayes to a four-year, $20 million deal, ESPN.com reported. Hayes, who played for Rick Adelman in Houston, is one of the free agents the Wolves targeted.