Ricky Rubio On Playing In Spain: I Feel Like A Rookie Again

Former NBA point guard Ricky Rubio retired as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this season — but he only retired from the NBA.Ricky Rubio, Barcelona, NBA

Now, not only is he playing for Spanish club Barcelona, but he signed on to play for Spain’s national team. His contract with Barcelona is for the rest of the season.

“I’m feeling nervous, almost like a rookie again,” he said, via EuroHoops. “The truth is that I was very excited to return to the national team — it was where I left everything so it is like a follow-on after this experience. I really missed it, the atmosphere is amazing and young guys come with a lot of talent and I want to teach a little bit of everything. It’s spectacular.”

EuroHoops added that Rubio “didn’t feel alone at any time, neither with the National Team nor in Cleveland or the world of basketball in general,” and that returning to Spain helped him get through “such a difficult time.”

Rubio retired as a member of the Cavs in January.

Rubio, 33, had been taking a mental health break while sitting out the season.

He thanked all the teams for which he played — the Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves — but offered special praise to the Cavs, who re-signed him after trading him to the Indiana Pacers on an expiring contract. Rubio returned last season but wasn’t the same after tearing his ACL the previous year.

“My last home,” Rubio wrote of Cleveland when announcing his retirement. “I know the way things ended have been tough. I could never have imagined the year would develop this way, but you have an amazing organization, with (president of basketball operations Koby Altman) and (coach JB Bickerstaff), who have been extremely respectful and understanding of my situation and caring for me as a person.”

Rubio appeared in 33 games last season, his first after suffering the ACL injury, averaging 5.2 points and 3.5 assists.

He was the No. 5 overall pick by the Timberwolves in the 2009 NBA Draft and carries career averages of 10.9 points, 7.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds in 698 games.

The qualifying tournaments for the 2024 Olympics in Paris will tip off on July 2 in Spain, Puerto Rico, Latvia, and Greece. Twenty-four national teams will advance to the Olympics.

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