Ricky Rubio taking step back from basketball to focus on mental health

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Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio has announced that he’s taking a break from basketball in order to focus his energies on his mental health.

The Spanish Basketball Federation issued a statement from Rubio that offered no immediate insight on why he’s taking this break, but indicated that such information may be forthcoming at some point.

“I have decided to stop my professional activity to take care of my mental health,” Rubio said. “I want to thank all the support I have received from the FEB to understand my decision. Today #Family makes more sense than ever. Thank you. I ask to respect my privacy to be able to face these moments and to be able to give more information when the time is right.”

Rubio’s decision likely indicates that he won’t be playing for Spain in the upcoming FIBA World Cup that gets underway on Aug. 25. Prior to Rubio’s decision, the Cavaliers had encouraged him to take part in the competition as a way to sharpen his tools for the NBA.

The 32-year-old Rubio was originally drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fifth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He didn’t join the Timberwolves until the 2011-12 season, but then became a key part of their lineup until being dealt to the Utah Jazz in 2017.

After two seasons with the Jazz, Rubio signed with the Phoenix Suns as a free agent and spent one season with them before winding back up with the Timberwolves.

Rubio was dealt to the Cavaliers in August 2021 in exchange for Taurean Prince and a second-round draft pick. His first season with the Cavs saw him come off the bench for most of his 34 games, a stint that abruptly stopped when he suffered a season-ending ACL injury.

While injured, Rubio was dealt to the Indiana Pacers in the deal that brought Caris LeVert to Cleveland. After the 2021-22 season concluded, Rubio signed again with the Cavaliers, and after fully rehabbing his injury, he returned for 33 games this past regular season.

That lengthy effort just to get back on the court no doubt served as a major challenge for Rubio. Two months ago, he acknowledged the reality of his NBA career winding down and his potential return to international basketball.

One player who very well may be in contact with Rubio is his former Cavaliers teammate, Kevin Love. During his time with the Cavs, Love was outspoken about his own mental health challenges that included panic attacks and other concerns.

Right now, whether or not Rubio returns to the Cavaliers this season is not a concern. Instead, the hope is that he’ll be able to address whatever he’s dealing with.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.