Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 2:20 pm  |  55 responses

Links: SLAM 128 Cover Shoot Video

Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings are coming to America (well, maybe)…

by Lang Whitaker

You might remember the day in December when, apropos of nothing, I popped up in Barcelona to file game notes from the match between Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings? Well, as is often the case with SLAM, there was a little more going on than meets the eye. I was actually in Barcelona because we did a cover shoot the evening before with the two best point guards in the world who aren’t in the NBA: Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings.

img_6466The most amazing thing — by far — to me about this cover was that SLAM was the only media outlet not only at the game, but also the only outlet that cared enough about basketball to even ask about doing a photo shoot with Ricky and Brandon. We asked Ricky and Brandon if they’d give us the time, and surprisingly, they both agreed to, rather graciously. We obviously don’t have the limitless resources of SI or ESPN, but when this came together I hopped on a flight to Barcelona to be in the casa for it.

We shot this in a studio in the shadow of La Sagrada Familia, the perpetually under construction cathedral in Barcelona. Brandon was in town with Roma, and he showed up in a taxi. Ricky’s parents brought him (Ricky didn’t have his driver’s license yet but was taking lessons). They’d never met before, and Ricky’s English is good enough that they were able to talk and hang out. We were at the studio ntil after 11:00 p.m., doing the photos and the interviews. And Ricky’s parents are so nice — when they heard we hadn’t bought tickets to see Ricky and Brandon play yet on for the following night, they demanded we go with them and sit with them.

The point I tried to make in the story was that as basketball fans, we’re living in a totally new world. Because for the first time ever, if you wanted to see the two best NBA point guard prospects in the world, you couldn’t do it on ESPN or CBS. You needed YouTube and a Euroleague subscription and Google alerts. Brandon changed the game for US players, and Ricky’s changing it for European players.

Obviously, the cover line says Ricky and Brandon are ready to rock the NBA. And they both are. I can promise you that. I know whenever we mentioned either of them in a post, a lot of you guys start saying there’s no way these kids will make it, they’re not that good, etc. To which I say, you are wrong. I respect your right to have an opinion, but you’re not correct if you think Ricky and Brandon won’t be NBA stars.

We’ll find out soon enough. Brandon is definitely in the Draft this year. (When I asked him if he was going to enter the Draft, he not only said yes immediately but he also mentioned the date of the Draft off the top of his head.)

But is Ricky going to be in the Draft this year? Well, I don’t have a concrete answer for you. When I asked Ricky if he was going to be in the Draft, he said this:

SLAM: Do you want to play in the NBA next year, or I mean what’s your…?

RR: At the moment I only thinking Euro[pe]—

SLAM: Next year, yeah.

RR: ACB. So I don’t thinking NBA. Yeah, I think—

SLAM:  Eventually—

RR: I watch NBA. I think NBA. But no, at the moment, no.

rickybrandonslamSince then, I’ve heard many rumors. I’ve heard that Ricky’s contract buyout is so big (the number I heard was about $10 million) that he might not be able to buy it out and would have to wait until the contract expires next summer. I’ve heard a rumor that his team in Spain, DKV Joventut, could use the cash and would be willing to take less to let Ricky out of his deal. And I’ve heard most recently that negotiations are underway as I type this to get Ricky out of his contract.

I don’t know where the truth resides in this equation, but I will say this: I would not be surprised to see Ricky and Brandon both in the NBA next season. In the meantime, if you want to see them or hear from them, pick up the new SLAM, on newsstands everywhere next week. Copies are on the way to the Rubios as I type this, and Brandon got his copy yesterday and sent me an email that said, “Thanks for writing a great story, for the new SLAM on Me and Ricky. The COVER is HOT.”

Agreed. Here’s a little video I shot at the shoot, and it includes a few clips of each guy doing his thing. You can see it on YouTube here.

And we don’t stop…

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  • http://where-basketball-b-longs.blogspot.com B. Long

    Hell yeah.

  • http://www.slamonline.com GotHandles?


  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Pistol Rubio is nice, but he walked after crossing up Kidd at the 210 mark.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    At least I can see the cover image here.

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  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    All images fixed on all posts, eBoy. Great stuff, Lang.

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  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    Where are all the people who say Rubio can’t play against NBA talent? Or maybe they watched the video already…

  • donovan

    Was it during the Gold Medal game that Doug Collins or someone said Rubio could be the fifth Beatle?

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Lang: Great showing Rubio crossing the hell out of Kidd. Hysterical.

  • Coach Master

    Nice grab, Lang. Hope both get drafted this summer.

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Rubio is a beast I’ve never been more impressed with a young guy than I was with him at the olympics. Does he have some learning and growing to do? Of course but the kid is legit as hell already. Don’t forget how old he is.

  • http://nicekicks.com MeloMan13

    yea this is cute and whatever but Melo is seriously overdue

  • WhaHuh

    Whats the consensus on Jennings’ draft position. With all the tyreke PG talk is I think he has been forgotten. Will he slide and be a steal like Brook Lopez?

  • http://courtsidebasketball.blogspot.com/ stu

    tricky ricky and the revolutionist! siiick!

    jennings is taller than i thought, or ricky is shorter than i thought? either way, the gumby and the brit-pop bob are going to raise the hairstyle quotient of the L immeasurably! dope pair and a dope cover.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    New King of All Media Lang Whitaker also in Peter Vecsey’s column today:


    Scroll to the bottom for a good laugh (that may resemble something in this issue, in fact).

  • ciroqobama

    Rubio looks like a Jonas Brother in high tops

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @cirqobama: He’s the new Bonus Jonas. Don’t ask me how I know about the Bonus Jonas.

  • http://idunkonthem.blogspot.com/ albie1kenobi

    this cover is hot. glad that SLAM was there to make it happen.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    How do you say Timberwolf in Spanish?

  • mumadone

    The two best point guards in the world who aren’t in the NBA…..? Maybe the two best young point guards. Otherwise Papaloukas, Prigioni and some others might have something to say about that.

  • http://www.stonesthrow.com/ Michael NZ

    If Rubio doesn’t declare for the NBA draft does he then play in the U19 World Champs here in New Zealand in July?


    ricky rubioooo!!!!

  • Marlic

    Michael NZ

    I think he play with selection in european championship. Is this summer and i hope all (Pau, Marc Gasol, Calderon, Rudy…. ) play with the selection team and ricky too

    Sorry for my english i´m from spain. lol

  • http://fdklf.com Jukai

    mumadone: They may say things, but they’d be wrong

  • ANU

    @ MYLES B, it’s said like this: new york knick.

  • OneStep

    For those of you who want to see how good Ricky already is check out http://acbtv.acb.com/ and select DKV Joventut. There are more highlight plays from him than any sub-10 year NBA player currently playing. Plus, for those that doubt the athleticism of euro players, have a regular peek at the weekly highlights from all of the teams. Prepare to be impressed.

  • Greedy_Genius

    How tall is Ricky Rubio? i thought he was 6″4′ from the video and pics he looks at least 6″2′, 6″3′ or maybe the europeans are just padding his vitals?

  • ANU

    i think he’s probably 6-2 without kicks, and with em 6-3.chad ford’s big board has him listed at 6-4, but they have griffin at 6-10, and blake aint 6-10.

  • http://www.mrwiggleslovesyou.com Shu

    I don’t know if any of you read The Viper’s entire article, but I though this was somewhat funny:

    The aptly named former Blount, 40, was arrested Dec. 4 after the police confiscated 11 pounds of marijuana sent to him at a relative’s home. They found another 18 pounds of glorious ganja after searching Corie’s aromatic abode.

    Some players demand more time, some crave a reduced amount. A guilty plea to two felonies in an Ohio court may have earned Blount a 10-year guarantee in the pokey.

    Coincidentally, his plea deal runs concurrently with the league’s first-ever Green Week.

    Nice cover. I’m stationed in Japan, and I just got the Kobe vs. Kobe issue in the mail. I’ll get this one around mid-May… grumble grumble…

  • http://www.hibachi20.blogspot.com Hursty

    Shu- I haven’t got the Kobe cover yet (but I haven’t looked around for 5 days lol) so your not the last person to get a copy. *smileyface*
    Your story was covered ages ago by Mutoni and the Links, so eh.
    The cover is actually f*king awesome. Rubio loves that over the shoulder pass though huh? *wink smiley face*
    *- because you can’t do emoticons without moderation lol.

  • jarrett

    i gotta give it to ya SLAM its unpredictable, good move, but the only person less deserving of a cover than these two is sebastain telfair (in his jr year in hs). And these two just like telfair will be busts in the nba.

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  • Bonzi4Prez

    Nice to see a cover without Lebron, Kobe, Dwayne Wade, or somebody from the Celtics on it!

  • http://slamonline.com Adam Fleischer

    Dope cover. Can’t wait to see both do work in the League.

  • LilKDub503

    Did anyone see that HBO special? BJ’s 19 years old, and has his mom drive him around, cook his meals, and wash his clothes. He’s a good player, but will he learn how to be a man and take care of himself?

  • http://www.espaciocubico.com Jeronimo

    That cover is HOTTTTTTT! Thanks a lot for having my boy Rubio on the cover, Lang!

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  • Ironman510

    I bet my bottom dollar Ricky wont be in the NBA.
    But those two kids look happy. Let them get married.

  • Elzie Bibbs

    Elzie Bibbs

    Video Available on Google

    Height: 6’5″

    Weight: 215lbs

    Positions: Point Gaurd, Shooting Gaurd, Small Forward

    Wingspan: 81 inches (6’9″)

    Vertical: 40 inches (3’4″)

    Bench press: 315 pounds (Max)

    2001 High school: Notre Dame Prep (Fitchburg, MA)
    (50 Games) 41-9 (Best in New England)
    Averages: 28 Points, 14 Rebounds, 5 Assist, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks

    2002-2006 Hampton University (Virginia) (Division 1 MEAC) / Ferris State University (GLIAC) / Livingstone College (CIAA) Averages:
    16.4 Points, 6.7 Rebounds, 3 Assist, 2 Steals, 1 Block

    2006-2007 Lansing Capitals (IBL) / Holland Blast (IBL) (10 Games) Averages: 18 Points, 11 Rebounds, 6 Assist, 3 Steals,2 Blocks

    2008 June Eurobasket Camp (ESL) Chicago Game 1:
    39 Points, 10 Rebounds, 4 Assist, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks

    2008 June Eurobasket Camp (ESL) Chicago Game 2:
    37 Points, 10 Rebounds, 5 Assist, 2 Steals, 2 Blocks

    2008 June Eurobasket Camp (ESL) Chicago Game 3:
    32 Points, 10 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 1 Steal, 1 Block

    2008 October Bahama All Show Pro (A.B.A.) (10 Games)Averages:
    Points: 44 Points
    Rebounds 11 Rebounds
    Assist: 5 Assist
    Blocks: 2 Blocks
    Steals: 2 Steals

    December 2nd-16th 2008 Washington Generals VS Harlem Globetrotter Military Tour Averages:
    Minutes: 20 Minutes
    Points: 16.9 Points
    Rebounds: 5.3 Rebounds
    Assist: 2.1 Assist
    Steals: 0.7 Steals
    Blocks: 1.1 Blocks

    December 2nd 2008 Seoul, Korea:
    20 Minutes, 11 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 2 Steals, 1-2 3′s, 5-7 Field Goals

    December 3rd 2008 Seoul, Korea:
    20 mins, 13 Points, 4 Rebounds, 3 Assist, 1 Steal, 1 Block, 1-3 3′s, 6-9 Field Goals

    December 5th 2008 Yokota, Japan:
    20 mins, 28 Points, 6 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 1 Block, 4-5 3′s, 12-15 Field Goals

    December 6th 2008 Astugi, Japan:
    20 Minutes, 14 Points, 7 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 1 Steal, 1 Block, 2-3 3′s, 6-9 Field Goals

    December 7th 2008 Yokosuka, Japan:
    20 Minutes, 15 Points, 6 Rebounds, 3 Assist, 1 Block, 3-6 3′s, 6-11 Field Goals

    December 8th 2008 Camp Zama, Japan:
    20 Minutes, 14 Points, 7 Rebounds, 1 Assist, 1 Steal, 2 Blocks, 2-4 3′s, 6-10 Field Goals

    December 12th 2008 Okinawa, Japan:
    20 Minutes, 16 Points, 5 Rebounds, 4 Assist, 1 Steal, 2 Blocks, 4-7 3′s, 6-11 Field Goals

    December 13th 2008 Okinawa, Japan:
    20 Minutes, 19 Points, 5 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 1 Steal, 3-5 3′s, 7-11 Field Goals, 2-2 Free throws

    December 15th 2008 Guam:
    20 Minutes 18 Points, 4 Rebounds, 2 Assist, 1 Block, 2-4 3′s, 6-12 Field Goals

    December 16th 2008 Guam: 21 Points, 4 Rebs, 1 Assist, 1 Block, 3-3 3′s, 6-9 Field Goals

    2008 June Eurobasket Camp (ESL) Chicago 1st Team All Tournament Team

    2008 June Eurobasket Camp (ESL) Chicago leading scorer 36 points per game

    2008 June Eurobasket Camp (ESL) Chicago Leading rebounder 10 rebounds per game

    2005 Bobby Lutz All Tournament 1st Team

    2002 USA Today Newspaper NCAA Hampton University Division I All-Name Team

    2002 NCAA Tournament
    #15 Hampton Vs #2 UCONN

    2002 Hampton Beats UNC (Chapel Hill)

    2000 Adidas Big Time Single Game History
    Tournament High 37 Points (Las Vegas)

    1999 Adidas Big Time Single Game Tournament History High 37 Points (Las Vegas)

    1999 Adidas Big Time Scoring Leader Average
    25.5 points Per game (102 Points / 4 games)
    (Las Vegas)

    Career highs:

    Points: 72

    Rebounds: 25

    Assist: 16

    Blocks: 7

    Steals: 6

  • jhop87

    look at the future

  • http://yahoo.com Domo

    That last comment was a little 2 much….lol Nice cover guy’s…Something different…Did u guys go over sea’s for the photoshoot doe..?

  • jacky leung

    I really hope that I can get the SLAM in States,but I’m a chinese,how can I get them~I love SLAM so much.

  • Mink

    Ricky !

  • Minister Melvin Jones

    Ive been collecting SLAM for 12 years now this cover is great and needed, as much as needed as a kicks magazine this year that includes every basketball, football nike shoe made since 1989, that might be asking for to much but nike has been in a slump to me for the last 9 years and i just would like to see the old great shoes back in the day, just as an update from the first KICKS magazine, which is the reason why I first started bying SLAM MAGAZINE’S in the first place. Is anyone out there???? ANYBODY????

  • RBGdUP

    Its interesting, I’d really like to see how Rubio plays against NBA competition. I could only gather so much from his showing in the Olympics, because Team USA still wasn’t an established team, and they were playing under FIBA rules. I think he will be successful, but he doesn’t pass that PG litmus test:
    -He isn’t quick
    -He isn’t strong
    But as shown in the video he’s got handles and court-sense. I can’t wait to see Brandon Jennings play, I mean from what i hear he hasn’t been getting much PT in Italy but i promise you you cannot watch a Brandon Jennings highlight mix without dropping your jaw.
    2 burgeoning young stars, hope to see them playing NBA ball soon

  • RBGdUP

    hey Minister Melvin Jones, why just Nike. There have been a ton of dope ball sneakers by Cons, Reebok, Adidas, etc. over the last couple decades

  • Paul

    I think any team that doesn’t get Griffin in the draft should take Rubio. A franchise changing talent who’ll likely take another year before coming over, which should result in another high draft pick.

    Outside of Griffin there’s nothing worth grabbing over Rubio & the late lottery picks for the 2010 draft seem comparable to the early lottery picks for 2009.

  • http://www.eric32woodyard.wordpress.com Eric Woodyard

    This was hot!! I cant wait to cop the actual mag…B-Jennings is the truth! but i think Rubio is a little overrated though but he still is good

  • Eazy Yi

    I really hope he goes somewhere good. I couldn’t stand to see him in Minnesota

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  • Big Dubb

    I remember the first time I even heard of Ricky Rubio, was a article inside a past Slam Magazine issue. I cant remember what exact issue it was. I remember it had Marvin Williams before the he was drafted. You should re-run again!Its the magazine, where everbody first hears about the first!

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