Veteran point guard Ricky Rubio has decided to call it a career after 12 seasons in the NBA. The 32-year-old surprised many by announcing his retirement on January 4th, 2023 after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Lead Up to Retirement Announcement
Rubio signed a 3-year, $18 million contract with the Cavaliers in 2021 after two seasons with the Phoenix Suns. He was expected to play a key role as a starter and veteran presence on the young Cavs squad.
However, Rubio suffered a devastating ACL tear last season that sidelined him for the year. He worked hard to return this season, but after just 34 lackluster games back, the Cavaliers agreed to negotiate a buyout allowing Rubio out of the final year of his contract.
In his retirement statement, Rubio cited ongoing struggles with his mental health as the primary reason for walking away right now:
“For a long time I was not feeling like myself. It doesn’t matter how much you work and how hard you try, there are things that are out of our control. It’s been two tough years with long rehab processes, but I find the strength to keep pushing forward every day.”
By the Numbers: Ricky Rubio’s Career Stats
Ricky Rubio leaves behind a highly productive NBA career spanning 12 seasons with 5 different franchises:
Though never a prolific scorer, Rubio made his mark with flashy playmaking ability and pesky perimeter defense. His career averages of 11.1 points and 7.7 assists per game are exceptional for a pass-first point guard.
Looking Back at Ricky’s Career Highlights
2011 NBA Draft: Originally from Spain, Rubio was selected 5th overall in the 2011 Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves at just 20 years old. He decided to come over from Spain for his rookie season in 2011-12.
All-Rookie First Team (2012): Rubio burst onto the scene as a rookie, averaging 10.6 points and 8.2 assists per game to earn All-Rookie First Team honors. His playmaking flair and thrilling style made him an immediate fan favorite in Minnesota.
First Playoff Appearances (2018 & 2021): Though his Timberwolves teams struggled through rebuilding years, Rubio finally reached the playoffs in 2018 with the Jazz and had a breakout showing. He then helped lead the Phoenix Suns to the 2021 NBA Finals.
Olympic Medalist: Rubio has been a fixture of the Spanish National Team, winning Olympic medals in 2008 (silver) and 2020 (bronze).
Back-to-Back Steals Leader (2018 & 2019): In his prime athletic years with the Jazz, Rubio led the entire NBA in steals in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
What’s Next for Ricky Rubio?
Though just 32 years old, Rubio seems intent on making his retirement stick this time. In his statement, he made it clear he is still prioritizing his mental health:
“For now, I need to spend time with my family and continue working on my recovery mentally and physically…I’m sure I will be around basketball again soon because it’s my passion but I need to make sure nothing is left unchecked before making my return.”
Retirement often proves difficult for world-class athletes to adjust to after dedicating their entire lives to sports. It remains to be seen what Rubio’s next chapter may hold – coach, analyst, entrepreneur – but for now he plans to take an indefinite leave from the game.
Down the road, Rubio will likely take a victory lap tour back to the NBA cities where he starred for so many years. It would not be surprising whatsoever if his #9 jersey gets retired by the Timberwolves franchise that he became synonymous with.
For Timberwolves fans, Rubio will always be remembered as the charismatic Spanish star who made Minnesota basketball fun again during some otherwise gloomy seasons.
So for now, “La Pistola” Ricky Rubio says farewell to the NBA after 12 eventful seasons full of highlight plays, playoff runs, and memories that will not be forgotten.
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