To the revelations of fresh-faced youth
From all the current, renewed Ricky Rubio buzz, perhaps the most poignant note is the realization that Ricky Rubio really wants to be in Sacramento. And that's surprising. We all remember the 1990s. We remember Chris Webber balking at the trade. We remember life as less than laughingstocks -- we remember complete irrelevance and invisibility. This 2008-09 season became rather nostalgic in that sense, the sense that our ankles had been caught in old quicksand we thought we'd left behind forever. Last year was 1997 all over again.
In 1998, we had one outside NBA player who wanted to be in Sacramento: Vlade Divac, a center of decent ability and overwhelming charisma. In 2009, we do have all these draft prospects begging for that No. 4 spot -- Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, surely Jrue Holday, Jonny Flynn and Stephen Curry. But Rubio sits a bit outside of that mold. Jennings, Evans, Holiday, Flynn and Curry will say those same words -- "Pick me! I love <city>!" -- to Memphis and Oklahoma City. Rubio has not, and will not. He is just screaming "Pick me!" to Sacramento. And that's amazing.
Sacramento has two things to offer Ricky, really: a young base where growth is more important than winning in the very short-term, and playing time. Let's be honest about our competition. The Grizzlies and Thunder fit the same bill on the first point. No one in Oklahoma City, Sacramento or Memphis will crucify Rubio for a five-turnover game. But despite Mike Conley's uneven career to date and Russell Westbrook's combo tendencies, Sacramento has the real golden void at the point. The team and everyone associated with it now appears to hate Beno Udrih for his slack act. Rubio's camp knows he will get more minutes in Sacramento than anywhere else.
Is that all we are, an open roster spot?
That doesn't upset me. The kid wants to play. Sure, a lot of kids want to play. But this kid -- a star the world over -- wants to show everyone he has what it takes to lead an NBA team, to be a star on the biggest stage, to enter the Pantheon of Point Guards. And he thinks he can do that in Sacramento. He sees Sacramento as his staging area in his quest to rise as no other European point guard has. I'm with it.