CHICAGO – Two of the NBA’s most dynamic point guards met up at United Center Friday evening and shared a few words about their mutual plights. Then they headed to opposite ends of the hallway, each to his individual routine, each according to his own timetable.
Ricky Rubio and Derrick Rose are brothers in rehab from knee ligament surgery. For the dazzling point guards of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Chicago Bulls, the end of the 2011-12 season came dramatically and prematurely – Rubio in early March on an otherwise innocent-looking collision with Kobe Bryant, Rose near the end of Game 1 of the playoffs against Philadelphia.
From there, it was left-knee surgery for both – Rose tore his anterior cruciate ligament, Rubio both his ACL and medial collateral ligament). Lost opportunities at the London Olympics – Rose with Team USA, Rubio with Spain’s national squad. And now, still, months of work on the side, often accompanied by therapists, trainers and coaches yet, in terms of where they’d rather be, always so alone.
“It’s tough,” Rubio told reporters in the visitors’ dressing room before Friday’s Wolves-Bulls preseason game. “It’s a tough injury. You are like six, eight, nine months without playing your favorite sport. Sometimes it’s just playing basketball where you forget about everything and you just enjoy it. I just wish him a healthy recovery.”
Rubio got hurt nearly two months before Rose, which presumably has him about two months further along in his rehab. Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said the point guard, who turns 22 Sunday, has been limited to “straight-away” running and is about two weeks away from lateral cuts. He recently added a little jump to the set shots he had been taking.
Rose has been jumping for at least two weeks, but he still is projected to return after the All-Star break in late February or in March. Rubio’s target date is sometime in December or possibly January.
“Every recovery is different,” he said.
Losing Rubio for the start of this season was bad enough, but the Wolves’ optimism for 2012-13 was dealt another blow Wednesday when All-Star forward Kevin Love suffered two broken bones in his right hand. Love, too, could be out until December if the 6-to-8-week prognosis goes full term.
Rubio said he had the same thought a lot of Minnesota fans had when he learned of Love’s injury. “We have so much bad luck on this team,” he said, sighing. ” I don’t know how to say, [if] it’s too much for us. Because he’s so important to this team. But it is what it is, we can do nothing. We just have to work harder and try to come back together.”
Asked about Love’s reaction when they spoke – the power forward traveled to see a hand specialist in New York and hasn’t met with Minnesota media – Rubio said: “He’s sad. He’s mad. But there’s nothing he can do except move forward.”
That’s how the Wolves have approached Rubio’s absence, too. Adelman said he expects the point guard will have some rust and other challenges once he actually is playing again, but he was encouraged that Rubio had not let his spirits plummet over the injury and layoff.
“He was very surprising,” Adelman said. “I really felt, as a young guy, he’s so energetic in his approach to the game … but he didn’t get down at all. He was disappointed, but I didn’t really see him look like the world came to an end.
‘”His whole thing has been, ‘I’m gonna come back.’ I think he’s been that way since Day 1. That’s a good attitude to have. He’s young enough that, when he gets back, he should be fine. He’s a great kid. He’s a tough competitor. If anybody’s gonna get there, it’s going to be him.”