Ricky Rubio tears ACL, the basketball world grieves [VIDEO]
|Rubio's knee injury... just sucks. What else can you say?|
Friday night, Ricky Rubio planted his leg while defending Kobe Bryant, and his left knee buckled. Initially, it looked like Bryant and Rubio had just bumped knees, but concern about Ricky's injury quickly mounted when he couldn't put any weight on his leg and had to be carried off the floor (video of the play is embedded below).
Yesterday, NBA fans' worst fear was confirmed -- indeed, in the blink of an eye, the 21-year-old Spaniard's ACL was torn, ending a promising and at times spectacular rookie season.
Rubio faces six to nine months of post-surgery rehabilitation, meaning he'll be forced to miss the summer Olympics. He should return to the court in time for most of the 2012-13 NBA season, but still, the promising point guard's ACL tear is a devastating blow for a franchise just turning the corner after a lost half-decade.
|Yup... this pretty much sums up the emotion of the moment.|
With a game predicated on uncanny passing and heady defense, Rubio should be able to make a close-to-full recovery from the knee injury, but it's a long road back for athletes who make a living cutting and jumping.
Dr. Paul Weitzel, an orthopedic surgeon at the Boston Sports & Shoulder Center, told the Boston Globe that ACL injuries are particularly challenging for basketball players because all the cutting and jumping involved in the sport takes such a toll. For example, consider the case of former Wolves forward Al Jefferson.
In February 2009, Jefferson's breakout season was cut short when he tore his right ACL in New Orleans. At the time of his injury, Jefferson was averaging 23 points and 11 rebounds per game and was in the discussion for an All-Star birth. The injury ended his season, but with a game more predicated on skill and finesse than explosive athleticism, most observers expected Big Al to make a full recovery in time for the 2009-10 opener.
Al did indeed return to the floor in time for the 2009-10 season, but he looked like a shell of his former self. His per-game averages fell to 17 points and 9 boards, and after the season the T-Wolves decided to cut ties and traded Big Al to Utah in what effectively amounted to a salary dump. Two years later, Al is now playing at a level close to his early 2009 peak and is in the midst of arguably the best statistical season of his career.
|Ricky posted this to his Twitter account yesterday. He's currently "pre-rehabbing" his knee, with surgery to come within the next week or so.|
The lesson? Rubio will probably make a full recovery, but it may take some time for him to feel comfortable running and jumping on his surgically-repaired knee.
In the short term, Rubio's loss damages the Wolves chances to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The team has decent depth at point guard with veterans Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea, but Barea has been injury prone and Ridnour can't play every minute of every game. Unproven rookie Malcolm Lee now becomes the Wolves' third option at point guard, meaning General Manager David Kahn may look into making a move for another ballhandler before Thursday's trade deadline.
But the real story here is about Rubio. In a sign of how respected Ricky already is around the league, numerous NBA players took to Twitter to wish him well as news of the ACL injury circulated Saturday:
S/O to Ricky Rubio! Have a speedy and successful recovery-- LeBron James (@KingJames) March 10, 2012
Love my teammate and friend @rickyrubio9. Here's to a quick recovery. We will miss you.-- Kevin Love (@kevinlove) March 10, 2012
Even the Vikings' Adrian Peterson -- currently rehabbing following his own ACL surgery -- weighed in with words of support for Ricky:
All my support to my friend and mate @rickyrubio9 after knowing the hard news about the results on his knee injury.-- Pau Gasol (@paugasol) March 10, 2012
Throughout his rookie season, Ricky has handled himself with a remarkable amount of class and maturity for a 21-year-old basketball rock star, so it's no surprise he's approaching his impending post-surgery rehabilitation with a positive attitude:
Just want to wish Ricky Rubio a quick and healthy return from his acl injury. He is a dynamic player and I can't wait to see him return-- Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 11, 2012
Move forward and stay positive... it's good advice for Wolves fans in general, especially when the whims of fate and a balky knee ligament leave them feeling snake-bitten again.
Thank you everybody for ur support.I promise I will be back soon and stronger. There is only one way to take: move forward and stay positive-- Ricky Rubio (@rickyrubio9) March 10, 2012
Finally, if you can bear to watch, here's video of Ricky's injury during Friday night's loss to the Lakers: