Less than a week ago, Ricky Rubio garnered a new round of national attention when TNT cameras picked him up telling Alexey Shved: "Change this face. Be happy. Enjoy it."
It was the ultimate Ricky moment -- staying positive, young and motivated even in the face of another lost season (when was the last time it didn't feel like the Wolves just wished a season would end, by the way?).
We attended last night's Heat/Wolves games, with the home team down to a razor-thin roster. No Budinger. No Love. No Pek. Not much of a chance against the world champs. Rubio was plucky. He played hard.
But we also think we could detect this: signs that the season, and all the losses, are really starting to wear on him. He was by no means giving up. But when he pounded the padding underneath the rim in frustration at the end of the first half after missing a short putback ... when he turned away and shook his head after he picked LeBron James' pocket, only to have teammate Dante Cunningham throw the ball away ... well, we saw a young man breaking just a bit -- a young man trying to change his face but lacking the means at the time to do so. His expression in that picture -- by the Star Tribune's Carlos Gonzalez, from last night -- says it all.
Sometimes Atlas shrugs (though in this case, it doesn't result in a 1,000-page book that takes us most of a summer to get through). Sometimes the one who carries the weight needs it lifted.
Commenter Stu has some ideas about how to help (more on that in a separate post). But in all seriousness, we really hope this stretch doesn't break Rubio.