Ricky has arrived!

Remember how the Timberwolves say they want to minimize expectations on their newest player, bring him along slowly quite possibly in a role off the bench to start, so he doesn’t feel like he needs to save the franchise?

Well, Ricky Rubio’s arrival in Minnesota doesn’t quite suggest that.

The team invited television stations and newspaper photographers out for Rubio’s arrival at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this afternoon. They weren’t alone. About 200 people – some media, many team employees and a good number of just plain ol’ loyal fans – were waiting when Rubio came out of customs off an international flight from Amsterdam with David Kahn by his side.

If I didn’t know him so well, I’d almost say that was a smirk on Kahn’s face as he guided Rubio through a gauntlet of the curious and well-wishers to a black limo-ish van waiting curbside that carried him and his family downtown. Rubio smiled and signed autographs as he went, looking a little sheepish about all the attention.

There were, of course, all the cameras there.

So, too, was Crunch and Timberwolves cheerleaders.

There also was a fellow with a Spanish flag, a woman waiting with a basket of fruit carved to look like a flower arrangement and kids with signs. One read, “Rubio Nation.” Another: Ricky in the USA. A third said we heart Ricky.

A grown man wearing a Wolves jersey bearing Rubio’s No. 9 commented how his wife thinks he’s crazed for watching all those YouTube clips these past two years while he patiently has waited for Rubio’s arrival.

Just one observation as Rubio passed by wearing a black suit and sporting a Wolves cap: He looked a bit taller and much slighter than I imagined. The Wolves say he’s grown an inch in the last year and now is a full 6-4.

In a few minutes, it was all over until tomorrow, when Rubio officially will be introduced at a Target Center news conference. He climbed into the black van whose corporate slogan on the side seemed appropriate – “Exceeding expectations” – and was off in silhouette, the basket of fruit outlined through the window next to him.

After almost exactly two years, he’s here, Timberwolves fans...

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Finally!: Wolves to introduce Ricky Rubio Tuesday

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On Rubio, Bynum, Nash, etc. with draft and live chat just one day away