It seemed innocent enough. Nothing that would cause heart-break on two continents, nothing that would leave a franchise wondering if it weren't cursed.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been one of the NBA's surprises this season. The forward Kevin Love was having an MVP calibre season, Montenegro's Nikola Pekovic was developing into a legitimate NBA centre, the rookie Derrick Williams was showing great promise.
And then, of course, there was Ricky Rubio. After remaining in Spain for two seasons after being drafted, Rubio had arrived to captivate Minneapolis. He charmed the fans with his play and his boyish demeanour. He helped make the downtrodden Timberwolves relevant again.
On Friday night, they led the Los Angeles Lakers by one with 16.4 seconds left. As Rubio came over to double-team Kobe Bryant, Bryant started to dart past him. The Spaniard's left knee buckled and he collapsed to the floor.
It hardly appeared to have the makings of a serious injury. But when Rubio did not rise, it became clear it was no minor one. He was carried off the floor. Then came the results of the MRI scan - a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Rubio's rookie season was over. So were his dreams of winning Olympic gold for Spain this summer in London.
Rubio was called for a foul on his season-ending play, and Bryant made both free throws to allow the Lakers to escape with a victory.
Up to that point, the Timberwolves were 21-19. They were in the play-off picture for the first time since 2004. They had recaptured Minnesota's imagination, and much of the credit went to Rubio, who was fifth in the NBA with 8.2 assists per game and averaging 10.2 points.
"It's a big loss for us," Love said. "He makes winning plays, he's a winner. We love having him around. We hope for a speedy recovery so he can help this team next year."
Maybe the Timberwolves will recover. In Rick Adelman they have a top coach and Love remains their centrepiece. But Rubio gave the franchise life.
"Rubio was the energiser of the fans," wrote Minneapolis columnist Patrick Reusse. "The reason the kids bugged Mom and Dad to go to Target Center was to see 'Ricky'.
"This is a body blow to a franchise that finally had regained its footing after seven years of stumbling and blundering."
These woes are not new to the Timberwolves. For five consecutive years they lost a lottery pick to serious injury in his second season.
Now Rubio will be lost for six to nine months. And a team who were just feeling the wind in their sails will have to recover again.