After it was reported on June 2 that Ricky Rubio was coming to America, I had an idea – why not reach out to his Regal FC Barcelona teammates to get an idea of how they think he’ll do in the NBA? They practiced and played with the 20-year-old wunderkind, so their perspective would trump that of any analyst.
Plus, I couldn’t find one article on the web in which Rubio’s teammates talk about him.
The first step was easy – identify his American teammates, hit up their agent, and then land an interview. So on June 2, I called Doug Neustadt, the agent of former Maryland star Terence Morris (who had a cup of coffee in the NBA with Rockets and Magic). Neustadt mentioned that Morris was in the middle of the Championship series against Bizkaia Bilbao Basket, but it seemed do-able. I followed up with an email, per his request. Neustadt then said submitting questions via email might be best, so I did that.
A sampling, if you’re curious:
* A lot of fans are pointing to modest stats for Rubio as a sign that he’ll be a bust in the NBA. Having been his teammate, why do you think his stats are so unimpressive? Is it a system thing? Is he that unselfish?
* Having played in the NBA, and now having been a teammate of Ricky Rubio, do you think he’ll be an immediate factor in the NBA? Or will it take some time?
I did the email dance with Neustadt for a few days – essentially: hey Doug, anything yet? – and I monitored the Championship series online. Neustadt gave no impression Morris wouldn’t answer questions via email or get on the phone with me. The day Regal FC Barcelona won the title (June 15), I called and emailed Neustadt again to check in. He said he’d check in with Morris.
Never got back to me.
Finally, I sent Neustadt an email on June 17th – non-diplomatic version: is this going to happen or what? – and I heard nothing in response. Was Neustadt jerking me around for two weeks, or did Morris have no interest in answering the questions? I’ll never know.
Assuming Morris was a lost cause, I decided to try and reach out to other Americans on Rubio’s team. (If you couldn’t already tell, I’m fascinated by Rubio, and basketball is my favorite sport.) My two new targets were Alan Anderson, a combo guard who played at Michigan State, and Pete Mickeal, who played at Cincinnati (and was a 2nd round pick of the Knicks in 2000 but never played one minute in the NBA).
Anderson’s agent is Brad Ames. I called him on the morning of June 20th and left a message. I called back later in the day and left another message. A day later, I emailed him. Ames got back to me a few days later. He put me in touch with a colleague of his, a helpful young guy named Justin. When I first spoke to Justin, the interview with Anderson seemed like a lock – Anderson was back from Spain, and the interview should go down later in the afternoon.
Justin called the next day to say Anderson was going to be traveling with his family, and then, in a moment of candor you usually don’t get from agent-types, he admitted that Anderson wasn’t too keen on talking about Rubio, and that he had hoped I’d be writing about him. I understood where Anderson was coming from, and thanked Justin for being so up front with me.
But with all due respect to Alan Anderson – he had a stellar career with the Spartans – he’s not the story. I could have pulled one of those snow jobs where I tell Anderson it’s all about him, interview him, pretend to care what he’s been up to and then fuck the guy by pulling his three quotes about Rubio and ignoring everything else. In hindsight, maybe I should have done that.
Justin told me there was another player on Rubio’s team (Joe Ingles, an Australian) that the agency repped who may be an option. I was driving at the time and didn’t have time to google Joe Ingles, so I wasn’t terribly interested, but I told Justin to keep me posted anyway. Never heard back.
On the same day (June 20th) I reached out to Brad Ames, I made a run at the agent for Pete Mickeal. His name is Merle Scott. I called his company and spoke with a helpful gentleman (they all seem helpful at the outset) who took my query and said he’d be in touch with Mickeal and get back to me. Didn’t happen.
By this point, I got the drift. One of three things was happening:
1) None of the agents thought much of me or my site, and jerked me around, never intending to grant me an interview. That’s possible, except for the emailing and calling with Neustadt and Ames. I sent them two credibility-enhancing links to the site, just in case they weren’t keen on working with non-mainstream websites. Or, I simply got blown off, and that kind of thing happens to reporters all the time.
2) The players don’t like Ricky Rubio or feared repercussions of saying something negative about him. Would it hurt their chances of returning to the team? Rubio’s built up plenty of equity in Barcelona … would Morris/Anderson/Mickeal have been ripped by fans or management (or cut?) for speaking negatively about a (former) teammate? Not sure. But it ain’t like those three guys are irreplaceable.
3) The players, who probably still think they’re the big deal they were in high school or college, would only do an interview if it were about them.
Either way, you’ll have to wait for another outlet to track down Morris (Baltimore Sun?) or Anderson (Star-Tribune?) and get a first-hand scouting report on the NBA’s most buzzed-about import since Yao Ming.