FanShot

"The Importance of Being Ricky"

4

...Reason would dictate that Ricky Rubio, who is pushing the ball up the floor in the fourth quarter of his first NBA game, should pull the ball back and initiate the half-court offense. Instead, with a subtle shift of his body toward the middle of the floor, Rubio creates enough space between two Thunder defenders to thread a one-handed bounce pass to Williams, who throws down an easy reverse dunk... It might seem odd that a people as relentlessly tight-lipped and steadfastly khaki’ed as Minnesotans would be so enthralled with a cosmopolitan, flouncy-haired Spaniard like Rubio. Historically, our predilection for the rugged and the tirelessly self-sacrificing has inclined us toward workmanlike power forwards and away from expressive, freewheeling guards. Thus, our devotion to Kevins Garnett and Love, as well as, much more embarrassingly, Mark Madsen and any number of not-so-worthy professional hockey players. But our famous stoicism can often double as a kind of covert optimism. The mantra "it coulda been worse"—which is what you say when a tornado destroys your crops, or someone falls through the ice but does not die—is another way of saying, "things could maybe get better." And like everybody everywhere, we tend to invest that optimism in our elite athletes. Amid a nightmarish 60-loss season, we went berserk for Kevin Love’s double-double streak, an insignificant feat if there ever was one. University of Minnesota fans give Tubby Smith standing ovations. We’re dying to love you...

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