"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 was Kevin Garnett’s self-given 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.
But those are just my ideas. Leave a comment with your own. Meanwhile...
¡Vive El Kid!
¡Y que viven los Timberlobos!