Ricky Rubio retires from the NBA after 12 seasons

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

NBA guard Ricky Rubio announced Thursday that he is retiring from playing basketball in the NBA. In a heartfelt post on X, formerly Twitter, the Spain Native stated he is stepping away to address his mental health. This came after he chose not to participate in the World Cup last summer.

"July 30th was one of the toughest nights of my life. My mind went into a dark place. I kind of knew I was going in that direction, but I've never thought I was under control of the situation. The next day, I decided to stop by professional career."

In the second year of a three-year, $18.44 million contract, both Rubio and the Cleveland Cavaliers agreed to a buyout. With that said, Rubio, 33, hasn't played a single game for the Cavaliers this season. Candid with his mental health journey, Rubio thanked the Cavaliers organization for their support throughout his journey. The Cavaliers will receive financial relief from the buyout, given he was due $6.1 million this season, and $6.4 million in 2024-2025.

"Special mention to Cleveland, said Rubio in a social media post. "You have an amazing organization, with Koby [Altman] and JB [J.B. Bickerstaff], who have been extremely respectful and understanding of my situation and caring for me as a person."

A true playmaker and floor general, Rubio was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves at No.5 in the 2009 NBA Draft. Before Draft Night, the Spain native played two seasons in Barcelona.
He went on to play for Minnesota for the first six years of his career, and then was traded to the Utah Jazz in 2017 in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick. From there, he spent several years bouncing from team to team.

While he didn't lead the Timberwolves to a single playoff appearance, we can't forget his long locks and unselfish game play. While he wasn't the best shooter, he made up for that through defense. Having stellar IQ, Rubio never quite flourished into the star as expected, yet was never a bust. A solid starter, he was known as a flashy guard who was a spectacular facilitator.

A fan favorite in Utah, Rubio led the Jazz to the playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2018. Hampered by injuries, he never returned despite Utah advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets. Following a career high 13.1 points per game in 2017-2018, the former guard signed a three-year, $51 million contract with the Phoenix Suns. Once the Covid-19 Pandemic struck, he was then traded back to the Timberwolves in 2020.

Averaging a career low 8.6 points per game, Rubio was then traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Aug. 2021, in exchange for Taurean Prince, and a 2022 second-round pick. Shortly after reaching 5,000 assists, the journeyman was traded to the Indiana Pacers in a deal that surrounded Caris LaVert. Due to an ACL tear and knee injury, the guard never played a single game for the Pacers.

It was then, he resigned with the Cavaliers on a three-year $18 million contract with Cleveland in summer of 2022. After much promise and talent on this roster, he played just a combined 67 games in two seasons. After starting most of his career, Rubio started just 10 games for Cleveland from the 2021-2023 season. For a majority of those two seasons, the former Cavalier spent time rehabbing a torn ligament in his knee.

Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman issues a statement on his retirement as of yesterday.

"Ricky Rubio embodied everything a franchise would want from such an accomplished player, who helped instill a confidence and leadership quality that still resonates within our team,” said Altman. “We wish Ricky nothing but the best and remain supportive of his decision to continue focusing on his mental health.”

Through all the ups and downs, it seems Rubio has an appreciation for his time in the league.
"I have collected lots of good memories and great relationships. Minnesota, Utah, Phoenix, and Cleveland. Wow. Thank you!"

Despite several stints on various teams, Rubio marked his talent as an established EuroLeague player early in on his career. A EuroLeague Champion in 2010, the guard has been compared to the late Pete Maravich on several occasions. Coincidently, the basketball world lost Maravich 36 years ago to the date. Finishing second in rookie of the year voting in 2010, Rubio was named NBA All-Rookie First Team.

In addition to all of his NBA accolades, Rubio gained several awards outside the NBA. The FIBA World Cup MVP in 2019, he was also named EuroCup Champion (2008), Liga ACB Champion (2011), FIBA EuroChallenge Champion (2006), and EuroLeague Rising Star (2010). Having played overseas since the age of 14, Rubio was a silver medalist in the 2008 Olympics, next to the great Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Rudy Fernández.

Not the first player to address mental health, Rubio had an impactful first season with the Cavaliers just a few years ago. It was then he teamed up with former teammate Kevin Love, who's also been very vocal about mental health through his career.

In 698 career games, Rubio averaged 10.8 points, 1.8 steals, 4.1 rebounds, and 7.4 assists. He was a career 32.4 percent shooter from the three, and 38.8 percent from the field. Very brave to share his story publicly, he's chosen self care and taking care of himself over anything else. Extremely, courageous, there's so much more to life than just basketball.

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Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter at Ballislife, and Sports Content Creator on Twitch and TikTok. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut/NYC area with her Cat and Dog. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics, with a minor in business administration.
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