SALT LAKE CITY — New Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio has long been one of the better players in the NBA at dishing out assists, but lately he’s also been helping out in the community through various acts of service.
On the weekend of Sept. 30, Rubio helped load relief supplies at an event put on by Vivint Solar for victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Then last Friday, he teamed up with Volunteers of America Utah to help collect donations and serve food at a local shelter.
“Don’t need to thanks. Anything for a better world,” Rubio tweeted after his September service.
In a similar vein, on Monday Rubio announced on Instagram the establishment of the Ricky Rubio Academy in Farmington, which will be aimed at helping kids learn both basketball and leadership skills.
“Coming to a new community, I just want to learn about the new community, and of course making an impact not just on the basketball court, but also outside,” he said after the Jazz practiced on Monday. “This organization brought me the opportunity to do it, and I want to help the community as much as I can.”
Rubio noted that he also gains from helping out in the community.
“It’s great for me to help, but not just because I help them. I help myself, too,” he said. “When I go out there and do things that I’m not used to doing but I see all the people’s faces happier, that’s what drives me as a person.”
As for the academy, which will be run in two separate sessions on Saturdays in November and December for both boys and girls ages 7-16, Rubio feels one of the best ways to impact a community is by helping kids.
“I think basketball is a great way to have fun with the kids and teach some values through basketball,” he said.
All of this for Rubio comes as the northwest region of his native Spain is being ravaged by fire, in addition to political unrest happening in the country.
“It’s tough when things happen at home and you’re not able to be there to support your friends, your family and people that you know that are from there. It’s tough,” he said. “The only thing that I can do from here is support them and try to help as much as I can.”
MANBUN FOR RUBIO?: On a lighter note, Rubio was asked about his hairstyle. In Utah’s first two preseason games, he wore his hair in a “manbun” and struggled shooting. In the Jazz’s last three, he let the locks flow and had considerably more success.
“My dad told me that I play better without it, so I tried and I played better,” he said. “I’ll keep playing until I have a bad game and I go back to it. It’s just nothing important.”
Pressed for a commitment on which style he’ll sport Wednesday, Rubio kept suspense alive.
“I may (wear the manbun), I don’t know,” he said. “I might surprise you.”
DO DIVISIONS MATTER?: Utah’s first three games of the regular season will be played against Northwest Division foes, the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Unlike in other sports where division titles have playoff implications, that is not the case in the NBA, leaving Jazz head coach Quin Snyder to say Monday that these games don’t have anymore significance than if they were played against teams outside of Utah’s division.
“Playing a lot of Western Conference teams out of the gate has an impact, but whether we play Minnesota or Denver or two other teams in the West that we play four times, it’s not as significant, although we know we’re going to play these teams four times, so from that standpoint, you’re aware of it,” he said.