Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ricky Rubio is stepping away from the court to focus on his mental health ahead of the 2023 FIBA World Cup, where Rubio was set to lead the defending champion Spanish national team.
“I have decided to stop my professional activity to take care of my mental health. I want to thank all the support I have received from the (Spanish national) team to understand my decision,” Rubio said in a statement released by the Spanish Basketball Federation on Saturday. “Today #family makes more sense than ever. Thank you. I would ask that my privacy be respected so that I can face these moments and be able to give more information when the time is right.”
Rubio was the MVP of the 2019 World Cup in China, where Spain beat Argentina 95-75 in the final. The Spaniards are set to open their title defense later this month at the 2023 World Cup hosted in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, but he left the team camp earlier this week. Rubio didn’t appear in Spain’s 87-57 exhibition win over Venezuela on Friday in Madrid.
“The basketball community is with you, Ricky Rubio,” FIBA wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. The Spanish Federation also expressed its “respect, admiration and affection for Ricky Rubio,” adding, “#LaFamilia will be by the player’s side at all times.”
The Spanish team will play a pair of games in Malaga, Spain next weekend, including an Aug. 13 matchup against USA Basketball — which is ranked No. 2 in the FIBA world rankings, behind Spain. The games in Malaga are part of Spain celebrating its federation’s 100th birthday.
Rubio suffered a season-ending ACL injury to his left knee in the 2021-22 season. He was traded from the Cavaliers to the Indiana Pacers in February 2022 following his injury, but did not appear in a game for the team. Rubio returned to Cleveland in July 2022 on a three-year, $18.4 million deal. He averaged 5.2 points, 2.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists through 33 games in the 2022-23 season.
Contributing: The Associated Press