BLOOMINGTON, Minn. —When Ricky Rubio held his introductory news conference this week, he jokingly promised that he would keep his credit card in his pocket on his first trip to the Mall of America so his family didn't buy everything in sight.
That didn't keep him from busting it out for a good cause Saturday. As a hectic first week in his new hometown drew to a close, Rubio participated in his first charitable endeavor for the Minnesota Timberwolves, going shopping at a Build-A-Bear store with a 3-year-old boy whose family lost almost everything when a tornado ripped through North Minneapolis.
"For these guys, whatever (they need)," Rubio said.
When the Spanish point guard showed up to meet the McPherson family, little Taj was, of course, wearing a Dwyane Wade jersey. Hand-in-hand, Rubio and the little boy stuffed a brand new bear, then went to various stations in the store to pick out clothes and get him all stitched up.
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It's been a whirlwind week for Rubio, who is scheduled to return to Spain for the summer on Monday. But he didn't hesitate to help when he heard the family's story.
"It's so fun," Rubio said. "I love the kids. He's amazing. I know sometimes, I don't know why, bad things happen. Everybody has to help to try to be unselfish and part of the (community)."
Rubio also got on the court for the first time with some of his new teammates, working out for about two hours Saturday morning with a group that included Kevin Love, No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson and Martell Webster.
The session left Rubio wishing the season started earlier, saying he could "play, like, tomorrow."
He seemed to make a good first impression. Love did not participate in any contact work while recovering from oral surgery, but he watched the scrimmage and believes Rubio will fit right in.
"He's a guy who sees passes ahead of time and puts guys in a position to score.... He's going to be extremely fun to play with and a guy I'm looking forward to playing with," Love said.
Timberwolves fans are growing nervous that Love, their first All-Star since Kevin Garnett, could be on the move in the next couple of years to a more competitive team. But seeing the additions of Rubio and Williams on the floor Saturday seemed to bolster his hope for the future of a franchise that has lost 132 games in the last two seasons.
"I'm very encouraged," Love said. "It was great energy in the gym today. Hopefully we can keep that through the next 10 years."
The core of Love, Rubio, Williams, Love and Michael Beasley seems to have energized a downtrodden fan base, and Rubio may have put another one on the bandwagon at the Mall of America.
After spending an hour or so with the flashy point guard at Build-A-Bear, Trevor McPherson, Taj's father, said Taj might be ditching that Wade jersey.
"He's got to have that Rubio jersey," the boy's father said. "That's mandatory."
That made Rubio chuckle.
"Trevor told me he's going to come to the games and try to support us," he said. "We're not going to disappoint him."