It was 18 minutes; but for Minnesota Timberwolves’ fans, it was the happiest 18 minutes of their lives.
Ricky Rubio’s return was highly anticipated, I had forgotten about the so-called “grudge” match between Miami and Washington on the same night and quite frankly, I didn’t actually give a shit.
It was announced when Rubio was cleared to practice that he would be brought gently into the rotation, which after a torn ACL is a wise move. I’ve known basketball players whose careers were halted with this particular injury. The Spaniard was also heartbroken at missing the Olympic Games in London, even though he was there supporting his nation to a silver medal, behind the United States. Spanish team-mate and Los Angeles Laker Pau Gasol told Ricky to be positive and to be patient. Rubio Tweeted his legion of over one million followers often on his progress as Timberwolves fans continuously thought positive.
For the T’Wolves supporters, this injury came at a bad time, their team led by Rubio and Kevin Love were the eighth and final seed in the West and looking good to reach the post-season, which they were clearly not used to. A collision with Kobe Bryant forced the tear and with the little wizard on the sideline, Minnesota fell way out of the Playoff hunt and Minneapolis settled for another missed post-season. They were not in over their head though, they tasted it for a bit, but had to rely on Luke Ridnour, a prefered shooting guard and Malcolm Lee, then a D-Leaguer. It wasn’t the same, after that.
Rubio remained positive even during the Olympics, updating us on his condition while supporting Espana in London. He worked out as normal in the off-season and before long, he was cleared to practice by team doctors.
It was as if Christmas had come a little earlier than usual.
And after nine months of being patient, like a kid awaiting his most wanted gift on Christmas Day, Rubio stepped on to the court, off the bench, like he did in his first game as a Minnesota Timberwolves player last season.
Even with an 11-9 record previous to this game, a new lease of life seems to have swarmed on Minnesota, and just from watching the win against Dallas, they look to be in the hunt for a Playoff spot this season.
Was this performance against Dallas just the start? Can the T’Wolves reach those heights they haven’t reached since 2004? It’s possible.