"I lost a little confidence in myself"

Ricky Rubio reflects on a trying season ahead of his move to the NBA

There has never been a dull moment for Ricky Rubio. His life has been on the fast track ever since he made his debut in the ACB League at the age of 14. Seven years later, he has pretty much won everything. With Spain, Rubio is getting ready for EuroBasket 2011, which will be held in Lithuania from August 31 to September 18. Afterwards, he will trade his Regal Barcelona jersey for the blue and green of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the NBA.

Question. Have you always been called Ricky?

Answer. My DNI (Spanish ID card) says Ricard, but I have always been known as Ricky. I started calling myself Ricky because I liked it more. When either my mother or my grandmother scolds me, they yell "Ricard!" And it is because I did something bad, like not cleaning up my room.

Q. Do you live alone?

A. I go back and forth between my parents' home and living by myself. I had an apartment in Barcelona because I live 20 minutes away in El Masnou and, with morning traffic, I would always arrive late for practice. I have a home to myself in the town- I use to go there to relax on the days that I was free. But now, they control my every move by cellphone.

Q. What is the first thing you remember about basketball?

A. When I was just months old, my mother would take me to go see my Dad practice; he was coach for the Mataró team. I was in a baby carriage then. But when I was four, I started to play in El Masnou. I later started playing with kids two years older than me. The rule was that if I didn't cry, even though I got hit, I could stay. The coach was [Josep María] Margall.

Q. Did Michael Jordan make an impression on you?

A. One of the first memories I have about basketball is the NBA and Jordan. Any kid from my generation knew who Jordan was because he was the best. Every time I use to watch the NBA, I would see that all the players were black, including Michael Jordan. So when they use to ask me when I was little what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say: "I want to be a black man."

Q. Do you feel that everything is moving quickly?

A. I have been living in the fast lane, but I am use to it. Since I was 14, I have been around people older than me and I have had to grow up very quickly. I missed a lot of things that friends did, but I am living a dream.

Q. This past season wasn't a very good one. You played poorly for Barça. What happened?

A. I lost a little confidence in myself. It was hard. I had to win it back and my teammates helped me. At the same time, on a personal basis, the season wasn't what I had expected it to be. But I should be happy. It seems that I haven't won anything, but we won the ACB, the King's Cup and the Super Cup. Personally, I lost a little confidence in myself, but I woke up and showed everyone who I am and who I could be.

Q. Do you feel you have been treated badly?

A. No, because if you do things poorly, they are going to talk badly about you. If you play well, they say good things. It is only normal. We all have our bad days. The way you have to see it is whether a player is giving his best, giving all he's got, but not getting anywhere. That's when you need to give him a break.

Q. So going to the NBA is going to be a relief?

A. No, not a relief. In Europe I have won everything, and now it's time to go.

Ricky Rubio in Madrid where the Spain team is preparing for the European Championships.
Ricky Rubio in Madrid where the Spain team is preparing for the European Championships.SAMUEL SÁNCHEZ
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS