Ricky Rubio spent six seasons with the Wolves, playing in 353 games and 112,117 minutes.
Tonight, he’ll play his first game against the Wolves since the team traded him to the Jazz this offseason. And because you can’t make this stuff up, it’s the team’s home opener.
“It’s a little weird, but it’s business I guess,” Rubio said after shootaround. “I have a lot of friends on the other side but tonight it’s about winning.”
It is a little weird for Rubio’s old teammates, too. Karl-Anthony Towns played his first two years with Rubio and his no-look passes, but he joked that might not be the strangest thing about tonight.
“How strange is it going to be with Ricky with a ponytail? How about that one?,” Towns joked about Rubio’s new look before getting a bit more serious. “I mean it’s going to be different. When you’re so used to playing with somebody for your whole career, it’s only been two years for me, but obviously for a lot of players, the most important years. It’s going to be different on the other side. It’s going to be a lot of fun to compete against him.”
Shabazz Muhammad has spent the last five years with Rubio and was used to running the break with him. And while he recognizes that, he still acknowledges that that’s simply how the NBA works. While friendships are made, it’s still a business.
“You know Ricky’s a very unselfish player and I used to love playing out with him and start running the fast break and all of that,” Muhammad said. “He’s a true competitor and it’s going to be really fun to play against him tonight. You know how it is in the NBA. It’s a business.”
Rubio will be introduced to a packed newly-renovated Target Center tonight as a member of the Jazz. After his time with the club after the team drafted him fifth-overall, Rubio remembers the beginning and it’d be a surprise if Rubio didn’t get a few cheers from the crowd tonight thanking him for his time with the Wolves.
“They were amazing when I was here and they’re still amazing,” Rubio said. “I was surprised since the first day I came to the airport and I got out of the gates and felt all the love . . . I really appreciate it.”
Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830 AM.