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Former Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio announces a break from professional basketball

Ricky was a big part of some great years for the Utah Jazz

Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz - Game Three Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Former Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio made a surprising announcement on Saturday. He said, “I decided to stop my professional activity to take care of my mental health.”

Rubio was slated to play for the Spanish national team in the upcoming FIBA World Cup this month. While Rubio is only 32, he has played professional basketball since age 14. That’s a long sports career. With injuries and family tragedies in recent years, it’s not hard to see how Ricky could need time away.

Rubio was the starting point guard for the Utah Jazz for two seasons. In that time, he averaged 12.9 points, 5.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He led a team desperate to find a new identity after losing Gordon Hayward. Rubio was a mentor for young players, including star Donovan Mitchell. Former Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of Rubio, “It’s hard to overstate the impact that Ricky had on our group. I think, in a lot of ways, we took on his personality; his unselfishness, how hard he played, he had great pride.”

Rubio was a crucial part of one of the most exciting Jazz teams ever. The 2017-18 Utah Jazz were an underdog, slated to be one of the worst teams in the league. Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Ricky Rubio pushed that team to heights nobody expected, including getting a first-round win against the stacked Oklahoma City Thunder. Game three was Ricky Rubio’s best game in a Jazz uniform. He put up a triple-double, outplaying the reigning MVP, Russell Westbrook. The entire Utah crowd joined together to chant, “RU-BI-O, RU-BI-O.” Ultimately, that Jazz team couldn’t get it done, but Rubio will always have a special place in the hearts of Jazz fans. From his passing wizardry to his jokes in interviews to his leadership on the court, Rubio was a leader and a fan-favorite.

If this ends up being Ricky’s retirement, he will have played a long and successful career. He will be known as a legend for the Spanish national team, one of the greatest European basketball players ever, a young sensation on the international stage, a mentor for many young NBA stars, and a fan favorite for multiple NBA franchises. Rubio’s international awards and accomplishments include:

  • Olympic silver medalist
  • Olympic bronze medalist
  • FIBA World Cup gold medalist
  • Two-time Eurobasket gold medalist
  • Two-time Eurobasket bronze medalist
  • Many international awards, including World Cup MVP
  • Minnesota Timberwolves second all-time in assists and steals
  • NBA steals leader (2013-14)

Ricky Rubio wasn’t just special for what he did on the court. He was also very active in every community he’s been a part of throughout his career. In Utah, Rubio visited hospital patients, shopped for youth, and participated in every charity event he could. The Ricky Rubio Foundation is a charity organization Rubio founded to fund lung cancer research, help underprivileged youth, and support the Special Olympics. Rubio’s mother passed away due to lung cancer in 2016. Rubio has since been a massive help in pushing lung cancer research forward and helping raise awareness. You can learn more about and donate to the Ricky Rubio Foundation here.

Taking care of your mental health is incredibly important, and it’s great to see professional athletes speaking openly about it. The more we see examples of players like Ricky doing what’s best for them, the more everybody can feel comfortable making that choice for themselves. We wish Ricky the best in whatever he chooses to do.