The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Ricky Rubio announced Saturday that he is taking a break from basketball to focus on his mental health. The move comes as his Spain national team prepares to defend their title at the FIBA World Championship, which begins later this month.
Rubio was the MVP of the last World Cup four years ago, leading Spain to the championship and posting an 8-0 record in the tournament. The veteran point guard should also be part of the Spanish team that will attempt to defend the title at the World Cup, which begins on August 25 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.
“I have decided to retire from work to take care of my mental health,” Rubio said in a statement released by the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB). “I would like to thank all the support I have received from the FEB in understanding my decision. Today #LaFamilia makes more sense than ever. Thanks very much.”
Rubio also requested that his “privacy be respected so that I can face those moments and provide more information when the time comes.” He left the Spanish side’s camp earlier in the week and played in the team’s 87-57 exhibition win over Venezuela Friday in Madrid not with.
There’s no indication of how long Rubio’s break will last. NBA training camps start in about two months.
“We were informed today by Ricky and his agency that he has decided to step down from his illustrious basketball career to focus on his mental health at this time,” Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman said Saturday. “We understand how difficult the decision has been for him and will provide the best possible support while respecting Ricky’s request for privacy.”
The Spanish team will play two games in Malaga, Spain next weekend, including a game on August 13 against USA Basketball – ranked 2nd in the FIBA World Rankings behind the reigning world champions. The Malaga games are part of Spain’s 100th anniversary celebrations.
“People come before results” Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said so in a social media post. “All my love and support for Ricky and my admiration for his transparency and through it his ability to lead by example once again.”
Rubio, 32, is the oldest and, in terms of NBA years, most experienced player on the Cleveland roster. He has played in the league for 12 seasons and has performed with Timberwolves, Jazz, Suns and the Cavaliers.
While recovering from a cruciate ligament tear in his left cruciate ligament, he missed the majority of the past two seasons and returned to the Cavs at the end of last season primarily as a 33-game reserve.
The Spanish FA said it wanted to “show its respect, admiration and affection to Ricky Rubio. #LaFamilia will be with the player at all times.”
Rubio has averaged 10.8 points and 7.4 assists over his NBA career. He scored the highest team tally of 20 points in Spain’s 2019 World Cup final win over Argentina.
Rubio – who played his first professional game in Spain in 2005 when he was just 14 – was drafted fifth overall by Minnesota in 2009 and actually joined the Timberwolves two years later. He is a three-time Olympian and a three-time World Cup member for Spain.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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