Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks saw Ricky Rubio with his own two eyes about an hour before tipoff Monday night. Until that moment, he only had heard about the Timberwolves rookie point guard.
"I saw him for the first time and it was like, 'He is real,' " Brooks said, smiling. "Like a folk hero."
The Rubio hype finally gave way to Rubio reality in the Wolves season opener at Target Center, and the 21-year-old Spaniard made quite a first impression.
Rubio came off the bench to record six assists, six points and five rebounds with no turnovers in a 104-100 loss to the Thunder, arguably the NBA's best team.
Rubio piloted the fast break with precision, set up teammates for easy baskets and showed some of the flair that made him a YouTube sensation while Wolves fans patiently awaited his arrival for two years.
More than anything, Rubio looked like he belonged. He looked comfortable on the court. He looked ready for this new challenge.