- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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Both young stars blew out the ACL in their left knee last season. Rubio had to have reconstructive surgery on his LCL as well. It's been a painful recovery at times for both men, and given the fact that Rubio's injury occurred on March 9, he is almost two months ahead of Rose in the healing process. The pair met before Friday night's preseason tilt between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls and it's obvious that each man understands what the other is going through.
"It's tough and it's a tough injury," Rubio said. "You're like six, eight, nine months without playing your favorite sport and sometimes it's playing basketball where you forget about everything. I just wish him as healthy a recovery as he can and that's it."
While Rose noted during the Bulls' media day that he has had a tougher time dealing with the mental aspect of the injury, Rubio noted that he has struggled at times with both the mental and physical aspects of being out for so long.
"In the beginning it was physical because you're in so much pain that you have to fight every day and you have to bend the knee," Rubio said. "And every day was painful and then when that pain goes away and you just have to work out and see your teammates or all your friends playing, not just (NBA) basketball games, like basketball in the street. Basketball this summer I was sitting on the side, it was too hard mentally. It's hard because you want to play. I've been playing for all my life and I've never been out for that long, so it's just hard to see all those players and you can't do whatever you want to do playing basketball so it's just hard mentally."
Rubio's coach, Rick Adelman, has been impressed by how well his young point guard has handled the injury.
"He was very surprising because I really felt as a young guy, he's so energetic in his approach to the game, but he didn't get down at all," Adelman said. "He just said, 'I'm going to come back.' He was disappointed, but I really didn't see him (feeling like) the world came to an end. His whole thing was 'I'm going to come back.' And I think he's been that way since day one so that's a good attitude to have. He's young enough that if he gets back he should be fine. He's a great kid, he's a tough competitor and if anybody's going to get there it's going to be him."
While Adelman said he didn't discuss his mutual injury plight with Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau, he acknowledged that both teams are enduring a lot of the same emotions given their stars' status. The Timberwolves have to be feeling even worse at the moment given that Kevin Love just went down for 6-8 weeks because of a broken hand.
"They're missing a pretty big piece, too," Adelman said of the Bulls. "I think the difference is they still have really good veterans who have been through the war, I think they know they can go to them. And (Thibodeau's) done a great job getting them to understand what they have to do to win and we're still trying to learn that with all the new people we have. We're still trying to figure out (what to do.) That's why losing Kevin right now it's really tough because now we've got to start all over to find out how we're going to get that done. We really don't have an identity yet as to how we're going to win."
Adelman, who had to deal with a lot of the same issues given he was the head coach of the Houston Rockets when Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming were sidelined at various times during their tenure with the Rockets, is happy with the way Rubio's rehab has gone so far.
"He's doing fine," Adelman said. "He's progressing every day. He's been moving up as far as his running. He's still just doing straight away running. He's not cutting or anything. He was just shooting set shots, now he's jumping a little bit. I talked to him today, hopefully in the next couple weeks he's going to increase his running, increase his acceleration.
"I'm sure we're just like Chicago. You want to get them back but you want to be sure that they're comfortable coming back. But I think he's probably just like (Rose). They're going to work their tail off to get back and that's what Ricky's been doing. He's been working, he's around the team all the time and we're hoping that when he does come back that he can play. But I think even when he comes back it's going to take some time. He's going to have his ups and downs and we just have to find a way to work him in but it will be good to have him back."
Like Rose, Rubio is hoping to come back as soon as possible, but understands that he must wait until he is completely healthy.
"I've been working every day and I'm trying to come back," Rubio said. "I want to come back soon, but I know that if I come back early it's bad for me. I'm at a stage now where I can do more things…”
Rose, who said at media day that he would start to cut in the next few weeks, has been shooting more and more with his teammates at practice. Nobody knows exactly when he will return, but he should take note of Rubio's words as far as a return is concerned.
"Every player is different," Rubio said. "Every recovery is different."
The Bulls are hoping Rose's body can somehow heal faster than most.
The Timberwolves' Ricky Rubio knows what Derrick Rose is going through.