The Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, he of the movie star looks, has a passing game prettier than Justin Bieber on the red carpet. The Spaniard pro baller drops dimes (assists) like he’s a man possessed by the basketball gods of Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and Pete Maravich. We talked to Rubio, live from the NBA on ESPN RV commercial shoot, about his dating life, adapting to American life and his hometown of Barcelona, Spain. As the NBA 2012-2013 season tips off, get familiar with one of its brightest young stars below.
How are you adjusting to life in Minnesota?
“Coming from Barcelona and going to a cold city like Minnesota is hard but it’s nice as well seeing the local people helping me to [adjust]. People are so helpful and nice here. I love it. It’s a small city where everyone knows everyone.”
Have your fellow Spanish ex-pats, Pau and Marc Gasol, given you advice?
“They were had the same experience. [They told me] to enjoy every single moment and don’t buckle under the pressure because it’s a big league.”
What do you miss about Spain?
“I love Spain. I love Barcelona. The thing I’m missing most is the food. Whenever I go home I gain 10 pounds!”
What do you look for in a relationship?
“I look for a woman who can make me laugh and enjoy every single moment with her. Last year I was with my girlfriend so I didn’t look for it. Right now, I’m concentrating on basketball. Love comes when you least expect it. You don’t have to look for it.”
What’s your goal for the Wolves this season?
“I hope to be in the playoffs. Last year we had a good season but not good enough to be in the playoffs. We still have to do some work to put it all together and get to the playoffs.”
How do you concoct those crazy passes to your teammates?
“Most of my passes just come naturally. I like to have fun and I’m guy who enjoys putting on a show. When I make crazy passes, coaches sometimes don’t like it (laughs).”
As a rookie last season, what was the craziest thing the veterans made you do?
“At the beginning of the season the rookies have do a dance contest. And I’m not a big fan of dancing. I didn’t win—not at all.”
You’re rehabbing a torn ACL. What have you learned from the recovery process?
“It’s a long process but you realize how lucky you are when you’re healthy. Now that I have to stop playing basketball for six months is so painful—physically and mentally. I learned that you have to be grateful everyday you wake up. Whenever something bad happened in my life, I’d play basketball—it was my escape.”