The subject of Lubos Barton’s monthly Q&A feature in the March issue of the Czech Basketmag magazine is the Timberwolves‘ point guard genius Ricky Rubio. Barton, a Czech veteran basketballer, is Rubio’s former teammate of 4 years (three seasons with Joventut Badalona, one with Regal Barcelona). When Rubio came to play for Barcelona, Barton let him wear his favorite number 9, and this led to Rubio promising him he would pay back in the future. So when Barton asked Ricky to do an interview, RR was more than pleased and ready to answer any questions.
LB: Ricky, congrats on your return from the injury! It looks like you are feeling better and better on the floor. For the time being, do you have any restrictions due to that knee?
RR: The knee feels very good. I’m feeling great, the only thing that hinders me a bit is jumping off one foot. When I do it I don’t feel completely healed, but otherwise all is well.
LB: For the Timberwolves fans, your comeback after the injury is the only light in an unsuccessful season in which the team has not been really at full strength once.
RR: It’s a difficult season for us. I’ve never witnessed anything similar to this. Even Coach [Rick] Adelman had been on a leave of absence for a couple of weeks. I see it simply: we gotta finish this season off as good as possible, get better and get ready for the next one.
LB: The Spanish National Team will be one of the heavy favorites at EuroBasket 2013. But there’s a lot of question marks about the availability of the best Spanish players. Are you ready to play there?
RR: Yes, one hundred percent yes! If my knee’s okay, I’ll be there.
LB: The Golden Generation (players born in the 1980s – Pau Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Felipe Reyes) will soon retire from the National Team. Those guys were the pillars of the last decade for Spain. Do you think the young guys - you, Serge Ibaka or Nikola Mirotic – will be able to replace them and continue the great play and all those successes?
RR: Definitely it’s going to be a huge loss. There were some of the best players in Europe and maybe in the world in that generation. But even so, we still got a chance to be up there [on the top]. We can count on lots of talented youngsters.
LB: In the group stage at EuroBasket, you will play Czech Republic. Have you ever played against any Czech National team? What do you know about Czech hoops? Please be honest and tactful at the same time…
RR: Nope, I’ve never played against you guys. Nor against any of the [Czech] youth teams. Truthfully speaking, I don’t know much about [Czech basketball], I just know one good buddy (smiles) [Note: Ricky’s speaking about his friendship with Barton here.], then I know [Tomas] Satoransky. Yeah and of course Jiri Welsch – will he play at EuroBasket?
LB: Yes, he will. Your Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman is known for being liked by his players and that they love playing for him. His teams‘ play was always pleasing to the eye and they achieved good results. How much did he help you?
RR: He’s really a great coach. Rick gives players, especially point guards, freedom. He helped me to be more confident in myself and he trusted me absolutely since the first moment. I owe a lot to him because he’s the reason I’m playing so well right now.
LB: The Timberwolves have a lot of international players and you can see it in the way you guys play – ball moves quickly, good reading of the defense, trying to get open looks, or moving without the ball which is Andrei Kirilenko’s specialty. Can an NBA team playing this style win the championship?
RR: Yes! I love this style. The ball is flying around quickly and there’s not a lot of one-on-one play. This is the way the Spurs play and they keep winning and this year they got a big chance to win the title. I remember their first two wins in the [Western] Conference finals vs. the Thunder. I’ve never seen a team play two games in a row better than they did last year.
LB: Now I’m gonna irk you a bit. I know you love playing alongside Kevin Love. But if you had to choose between him and Pau Gasol, whom would you say? Don’t worry, this will appear in the Czech magazine only. [Note: Barton doesn’t know myself, obviously.]
RR: A tough choice. Both are great players, but I have to go with Pau, because he’s my buddy. And he’s a Spaniard! (laughs)
LB: As a basketball player, what are your personal goals and dreams?
RR: I wanna be the best player I can be and that’s why I work hard on myself every day. My dream is to win the NBA championship and the gold at the Olympics.
LB: Favorite actor and actress?
RR: Will Smith, Morgan Freeman, and Angelina Jolie.
LB: From the players you did play with in your career so far, pick your favorite five. You are the point guard.
RR: I’d take JC Navarro, you, Kevin Love and Pau Gasol. [Note: Barton says he’d like to play with this quintet.]
LB: Best things in Minneapolis?
RR: Great people and also lots of pro teams in various big-time sports.
LB: The moment you were the happiest playing basketball?
RR: The triumph in Copa del Rey with Joventut [Badalona] in 2008.
LB: What would you do if you didn’t play basketball?
RR: I can’t even imagine that at all. I’ve been playing pro basketball since 14 years old!
Lukas Kuba, Truth About It.net correspondent (twitter.com/Luke_Mellow)