Rubio knows big expectations await his return
"I've been out like eight, nine months," he said. "I'm not giving excuses. It's how it is. If you're out for eight months or nine, the first game you're not going to play like you used to. It's going to take time, one, two, three months, who knows? I have to get used to the rhythm again and get used to playing again."
After all, not everyone is Adrian Peterson. Just across town, the Minnesota Vikings running back has defied all the odds in his own comeback from a torn ACL. He leads the NFL in rushing and appears to be playing better than he ever has, less than a year removed from his injury.
"That's crazy. Nobody can do that," Rubio said. "He did it and he came back even better than he was. I'm watching some games and I'm not a big fan of football but because he had the same injury and he's playing for the Vikings, I follow him. It's real impressive performance, what he's doing. I wish I could be as good as he does after that injury."
Love knows how his friend is feeling. The power forward missed most of the first month of the season with a broken right hand, and he heard everyone saying how things would be so much better as soon as he was in the lineup. But the Wolves lost four of Love's first five games and clearly struggled initially to incorporate him back into the mix.
"For me, obviously I want to be cautiously optimistic from that standpoint because I know a lot of pressure was put on me, not knowing how my hand was going to respond," Love said. "I know I haven't been the 25 (points) and 10 (rebounds) guy that I usually am. ... I haven't been quite putting up the numbers and helping the team as much as I can, but we do have an 8-9 record.
"For Ricky, I've said all along that I know he's going to return probably sometime in December. But as far as putting that type of pressure on him, I think our organization and our coaching staff and the guys, the players, have done a good job of doing that."
Rubio knows one of his trademark no-look bounce passes may miss the target in the early going. The alley oops may be a little harder to come by, and his timing on the pick-and-roll may not be as sharp. But as long as he's healthy, he's OK with that. And that's why even with his first game apparently so close, he has to be sure he's completely ready.
"If I come back earlier than I'm supposed to, it's bad for my knee and bad for the team too because I'm not going to give my 100 percent," he said. "And if I get hurt again, it's not going to help the team. And if I play and I'm not playing good, it's not going to help the team. I want to play so bad, but I want to be focused and I want to be ready to play when I'm ready."
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