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Ricky Rubio

Word is, Minnesota Timberwolves lottery pick Ricky Rubio is eschewing the NBA for a few more years of European basketball. According to Ball Don’t Lie, the apparently prodigious point guard — I say apparently, because only about 5 percent of the United State population has ever seen him play (not counting the Spain/USA basketball final at the Olympics) — has signed a six-year deal to ply his point guard skills in Barcelona for the next six years. This revelation brings up a question:

Is Ricky Rubio afraid of competing in the NBA?

First off, there’s the Jonny Flynn situation; one that threatens to cut into whatever playing time Rubio would’ve received. Is Rubio shy about proving he should be the starter over fellow rookie Flynn? While the sentiment alone seems doubtful, some of the best players pride themselves on proving their worth compared to others, opponents or teammates. Oh, and I don’t buy any of the “a small market hurts Rubio’s chances of being a star” nonsense for a couple of reasons.

I’m sorry, but is Cleveland considered a huge market when compared to Chicago, New York or Los Angeles? Has the city’s size hurt LeBron’s stardom? At all? OK, OK, maybe LeBron isn’t the best example, so let’s try Kevin Durant. If I’m not mistaken, Oklahoma City is the smallest market the NBA has, and yet, Durant is a known commodity. Perhaps not as known as King James, but casual fans are aware of his existence. So are companies willing to use NBA players as endorsers. I don’t know, maybe Durantula’s 60,000-plus Twitter followers are simply die-hard Thunder fans…

How about Brandon Roy? Portland is not considered a large, New York-like market, but yet, Brandon Roy has a relative amount of fame. How is that even possible considering the size of the market he plays in, right Ricky Rubio’s handlers? So again, the small market excuse sounds exactly like what it is, an excuse. This brings me back to the original point: Maybe Rubio is simply not ready to try, and potentially fail, in David Stern’s league.

Oh and for the Timberwolves fans who think the pick is a lost cause, Rubio does have a buyout clause in his Barcelona contract, so I guess hope is not completely lost — provided you were hopeful to begin with.

Update – Apparently, the Rubio-to-Barcelona deal isn’t official yet.