Cae Ricky y perderá el resto de la temporada. / El Kid injured & will miss the rest of the season.
Sí se puede:
¿Queda alguna duda sobre El Kid?
Any doubters left?
Also, twenty thousand Wolves fans waggling their fingers in front of their chins - a la the Lost Boys - would be pretty bangerang.
Tough loss to New York on Saturday night. The larget newspaper in Spain points out what none of the American recaps I read noted: that Ricky Rubio committed two crucial turnovers in the final minute, which likely cost the Timberlobos the game. The El Pais article (Ricky Comes Up Short Against Linsanity) breaks down the matchup:
"Lin led his duel with Ricky, especially in points. But Ricky managed his team well and committed few mistakes. While the Knicks' point guard tallied 6 turnovers, Ricky didn't lose a single ball. Until exactly the game's decisive moments when Ricky twice lost possession, crippling his team's chance of winning."
Of course the Spanish media is going to scrutinize Ricky most closely. I do, too - as writer of this blog - and especially after Ricky was in a hero's position after his basket gave the Timberlobos a 3-point lead with just over 30 seconds to go. It's interesting to compare their coverage with the American coverage, which seems to have left out Ricky's end-of-game mistakes, focusing instead on Lin's go-ahead free throw.
But I didn't actually see any of the game because it wasn't televised. Repeat: Ricky Rubio vs. Jeremy Lin was not televised. Too bad. Rubio and Lin are the NBA youth zeitgeist right now, two players fans can't get enough of. That game should have been aired to bring in fans and showcase the NBA's most in-demand product. If I were Wolves owner Glen Taylor, I would've paid what it took to air it. (Or Zygi Wilf. Or The Pohlads. Or David Stern...) What a great chance to showcase the revived Minnesota fan base, as well. From what I could hear over the radio broadcast, Linsanity and RubiOMG lit up the Target Center crowd. I got the willies just listening.
At this point, Ricky Rubio’s fame is assured. He’s been featured in Sports Illustrated and most recently in ESPN the magazine. Everyone from Dwyane Wade to Jason Kidd has weighed in on his arrival. The Timberlobos even withheld Kevin Love a 5-year contract in what some are saying is a way to leave the option open for the youngster from El Masnou (town where Ricky grew up. The name means “new house” in Catalan).
The kid has only played 28 NBA games (averaging: 10.9 points, 8.7 assists). There's lots of basketball to be played.
Among the many stats, contracts, endorsements, buzzer beaters, no-look passes, and other basketballia yet to be written, however, remains the question of a nickname.
Ric Bucher of the above ESPN article wants to call him Latka Bieber after the Andy-Kaufman inspired foreign man character Latka Gravas (and Bieber for the hair). We’ve already heard the comparisons to Pistol Pete Maravich provoking votes for “El Pistolero.” And then, of course, there’s the fact that folks seem pretty happy just calling him Ricky Rubio - a name that, as we’ve already pointed out, sounds nickname-y enough as it is.
Here are a few nickname ideas of my own...
El Cartero: “The Mail Man” This was Karl Malone’s nickname when he played because Malone 'always delivered.' But The Mail Man always seemed to me better suited to an assist maker. El Cartero would fit, but of course, it doesn’t role off the North American tongue. And Karl Malone is still alive, delivering headlines.
Mowgli: Yes, that Mowgli, of The Jungle Book. Bangs? Check. Boy raised by Wolves? Check. Boy raised by Wolves who eventually comes to lead them? Check! Even the translation, Mowgli means ‘the little frog,’ which seems apt in the way Ricky splits the defense (Frogger 2.0?).
Love Potion Number 9: Not a nickname, but so close to being a great promotions tag line for the Wolves in that it combines Kevin Love & Ricky (jersey #9) in a popular song title. How can we use this?!
RubiOMG: On second thought, please don't let this catch on.
El Mago de Minnesota: The Wizard of Minnesota. It's accurate and alliterative.
But of all contenders, I think my favorite is...
El Kid: Simple. Easy to say. It's a play on both El Cid and Da Kid. El Cid was one of Spain's greatest historical figures and military leaders (played in the movie by Charlton Heston). Da Kid being Kevin Garnett’s self-proclaimed nickname (Garnett: the Timberlobos' previous draft sensation). El Kid speaks to Ricky's youth and singularity, as well as being a simple, gringo-friendly nod to his Spanish heritage.
Statue of El Cid in Burgos, Spain
But those are just my ideas. Leave a comment with your own. Meanwhile...
¡Vive El Kid!
¡Y que viven los Timberlobos!
A rollicking 17-5 run to close the 3rd quarter fizzled into an otherwise easy Dallas win preventing the Timberlobos from sweeping the Mavs on the season. And yet: any Minnesotan will happily take a 2-1 record versus Dirk & the defending NBA champs in 2012.
When the Timberlobos reached .500 last week, I was here in Boston where most folks are disappointed with anything less than a championship (this was not the case when I arrived, way back in Sept 2000). Being a Wolves fan this season, I told my brother, is actually as good as it gets. After years as the NBA's doormat, suddenly we are winning games. We have dynamic young players and re-energized fans. We get to watch Kevin Amor ice victories, Ricky Rubio light up defenders, and Nikola Pekovic get beastly with KLove-esque numbers.
Yet we're not so good that we have to worry about all the pressures and let-downs of success. Sure, big games can be fun and Minnesota teams have won a few. And we all derive some pleasure out of sharing our agonizing sports anecdotes of loss. But living them sucks, let's be real.
This isn't The Year for the Timberlobos and, as a fan, that really takes the pressure off. This squad could be a contender in the coming years, if players stay healthy, if management deals smartly, and if the basketball deities smile favorably on yon 'Sota...
But before all that.
This is The Year for pure fan enjoyment. The best possible season to tune in and watch fifteen fierce, hungry Timberlobos play their guts out.
Here are the clips from last night.
Aquí estan los clips de anoche.
Don't miss El Kid's face at 00:54 watching his game-tying three pointer go in.
No pierdan la cara de Ricky a las 00:54 cuando entra su tiro triple para el empate.
And below: Kevin Amor turns out the lights in LA.
Y abajo: Kevin Love apagando las luces en Los Angeles.
The Wolves came back from down 12 points in the 4th quarter to defeat Blake Griffin's division-leading LA Clippers 101-98 on a last second buzzer beating 3 pointer by Kevin Love in front of a sold out crowd at Staples Center.
I was listening to the WCCO radio broadcast as the Wolves staggered behind the Clippers for most of the game trailing by double-digits. By the 4th quarter I was already in bed, lights out, but I just couldn't turn the game off. This wouldn't have happened over the past few years, but this team has got something.
Then the Timberlobos made a run. Ricky Rubio hadn't scored all game, but he started getting to the line, hitting free throws in the clutch. Finally, in the closing minute, Rubio hit his only basket from the field - a GAME-TYING 3 POINTER.
Billups tried to run out the remaining clock, missed a potential game-winner, and KLove grabbed the rebound with 1.5 seconds left. Coach Adelman's final play somehow got KLove alone off the inbounds pass for the clincher and a highlight clip to boost Love's All-Star stock.
That's 3 in a row for the Timberlobos.
Two years ago, I was shooting pool at The Park Tavern in St. Louis Park, MN when I overheard a guy say that he had bet $500 that the Timberwolves would win three-in-a-row at some point that season. Every time the team won two-in-a-row that year, I thought of him. And every time, they lost the third. Tonight, I hope that guy found his way through some double-or-nothings.
The Wolves are also 7-5 since losing their first three games (by a combined 9 points). Almost a quarter of the way through this strike-shortened season, they're just one game below .500. I joked to a friend just yesterday that mediocrity never felt so good - and it's true coming off three seasons as the NBA's doormat.
But win-loss records aside, you can see this team is more than mediocre. They got something. The tenacity of Kevin Love. The spark and sizzle of Rubio - El Kid. The relentlessness of Ridnour. The dark horse Darko (season high 22 points tonight). The strength of Derrick Williams. The Able Man Rick Adelman. Hey man, this is fun.
But I think Ricky, in his surprisingly poignant English and mature professionalism which are becoming as dependable as, well, El Kid himself in the clutch, said it best in the WCCO postgame interview: that the Timberlobos have been in these situations already this season - playing from behind, tight 4th quarters, final shots - and "we learn," he said.
So far, that is the difference between this year's team and those talented, young squads previous. The ability to learn and build from both early setbacks and success.
And what are we, the Timberlobos fan base, learning in return?
To stay up and stay tuned in, until the very end.