Timberwolves introduce Ricky Rubio

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - For two years, Minnesota Timberwolves fans have been tantalized by the myth of Ricky Rubio.

Rubio’s Spanish league games were rarely on television in the Twin Cities, so they watched grainy YouTube highlights _ a behind-the-back pass here, a nifty dribble there _ to get their fix. The air of mystery only seemed to increase the hype.

The 20-year-old point guard held his first press conference in Minnesota on Tuesday, looking to pull back the curtain and introduce himself to the fans who have so eagerly anticipated his arrival.

“I was so comfortable over there, but Minnesota makes me feel comfortable too,” Rubio said. “(The Timberwolves) supported me, they were happy about my things, my winnings, in Barcelona, and I was like, oh, they want me over there. I feel that love over there. I want to give back that love.”

The Timberwolves drafted Rubio in 2009 with the fifth overall pick, but a large buyout with his Spanish team at the time coupled with Rubio’s desire to stay home and work on his game kept him from immediately heading to the NBA.

It was a delicate negotiation at times, and president of basketball operations David Kahn, assistant GM Tony Ronzone, European scout Pete Philo and coach Kurt Rambis all chipped in to show Rubio and his family that coming to small-market Minnesota and playing for the struggling Timberwolves was the right move.

“Yeah, I feel like they really want me,” Rubio said. “It giving me confidence to play over here, play for them. It helped me a lot. I’m so glad those guys are working over here with the Timberwolves because they are really good (people) and I felt like I’m at home.”

Kahn said the Wolves staff tried to make it a point since drafting him to make Rubio comfortable with them, which would ease the transition to a new culture, new city and new game.

“I think that it is important to develop relationships and to demonstrate not only to him but to his entire family how important we felt he could be to us and how much we believed in him even back then in terms of his future as an NBA player,” Kahn said.

The flashy passer showed on Tuesday that he has some game off the court as well.

He deftly handled questions from about 60 members of the media, showing a sparkling sense of humor, a boyish enthusiasm and some genuine humility, apologizing for his English even though it was more than passable.

He said all the right things, earning applause several times from season-ticket holders who were invited to watch the press conference.

When asked why he prefers to pass first instead of score, Rubio quoted Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson: “One of the best sentences ever was Magic Johnson say a basket make one guy happy, an assist two guys happy.”

But what about the Minnesota cold, a harsh climate that was rumored to have him lobbying for a trade? Rubio said he will buy a big coat and be sure that the house he lives in comes equipped with heat.

Has he visited the Mall of America?

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