|Height||187 cm (6'1½")|
|Weight||75 kg (165 lb.)|
All Japan Junior Team
|Year||Year 1 Class 10|
|Manga Debut||Chapter 2|
|Anime Debut||Episode 1|
|Japanese Voice||Hikaru Midorikawa|
|English Voice||Scott McCord|
Bon Reyes (GMA Dub)
|[v · t · e]|
Kaede Rukawa (流川 楓 Rukawa Kaede) is the small forward and ace player of the Shohoku High.
Rukawa is a tall young man with short black hair and blue eyes. He usually is seen wearing the Shohoku basket ball team uniform with a black band in his left arm and Air Jordan 5 - "Retro White" colorway as his basketball shoes during games and practices. In his casual clothes he is seen wearing baggy type clothing.
Since many girls find him very attractive, he is considered one of the most good-looking characters in the series.
Rukawa is reserved, quiet, cool, selfish, insensitive and very cold. He cares about nothing besides basketball. When not on court, he is usually seen asleep on the roof of Shohoku or in class. He even rides his bike asleep. Waking Rukawa from a nap is considered unforgivable, since he will almost always automatically beat up the culprit. He has also been in his fair share on off-court fights, but can hold his own.
When it comes to basketball, Rukawa does not accept loss easily. This is shown during the practice match between freshmen against 2nd and 3rd years, especially against Takenori Akagi. His goal is to be the best High School player in Japan, and he considers Akira Sendoh of Ryonan to be his greatest rival.
He is also a very lazy person considers sleeping his only hobby outside basketball. He also chose Shohoku and refused Moichi Taoka's basketball scholarship in Ryonan simply because Shohoku is the closest to his home, annoying the coach with his lazy nature.
After Coach Anzai motivated him into becoming the number one player in Japan, Rukawa became very ambitious and more devoted to basketball. This was shown when he challenged Hisashi Mitsui, and later Sendoh on 1 on 1 game, vowing to never lose to anyone. His new found amibtion caused his personality to become more colder, intimidating. This was seen during practice, when he challenged his own teammates with an intimidating and menacing look.
He also appears to be unfriendly and unsociable. Apart from the basketball team, Rukawa doesn't have any real friends to talk to or might even have no interest in friendship, as basketball is his only objective in life. Many people viewed Rukawa as someone who prefers to act on his own rather with his teammates.
Despite his dark personality, Rukawa can show a bit of respect and compassion for others. During the match against Shoyo, when Sakuragi's dunk was invalid and got fouled out due to the offensive foul, Rukawa told Sakuragi that it must be very pitiful for him. The second time, is during the match against Sannoh, when Sakuragi crashed into the table going after the loose ball saving it from out of bounds and Rukawa praised Sakuragi for saving the ball and told him that he looks very awful after the latter seemed unconscious, showing no sign of mouvements after his crash.
He is usually stoic and emotionless, and the only time in the series he is shown smiling is when he realizes that Eiji Sawakita is a better player than him.
He went to Tomigaoka Junior High.
After defeating Ryonan, Rukawa approaches Coach Anzai seeking permission to go to America, since he aspires to join the NBA. Coach Anzai flatly refuses to give him permission, and tells him that his goal should be to become the best high school player in Japan first, and Coach Anzai's wife explains to Rukawa everything to ensure he would never end up sharing a same fate as her husband's late-student, Ryuji Yazawa.
At first, many noticed Rukawa's potential to be a future basketball star. Ryonan's head Coach Taoka was surprised that Rukawa was just a freshman. He noted that at such a young age, Rukawa has what it takes to be a high school basketball team ace. According to Sendoh and Coach Anzai, his speed and athleticism, combined with his drive to win and explosive strength, he is unstoppable on the court. He literally lives and breathes basketball to the point he is able to shoot free throws with his eyes closed against Toyotama High due to injuring his eye meaning he could not see depth nor estimate distances.
Rukawa is a scoring machine and once he heats up, it is very hard to stop him. He always surprises the crowd and never fails to answer back when faced with a strong opponent. He is a microwave when it comes to offense being capable to heat up and go for a bunch points very quickly. An example of this was in the Kainan game where due to Akagi's injury he scored 25 points in 6 minutes.
However, his playing style is criticized as being selfish. He met his match in Sawakita and cannot do a thing against him. Realizing the meaning behind what Sendoh said about Rukawa's selfish playing style, he decided to start passing, which collapsed Sawakita's concentration and allowed Rukawa to gain the upperhand. His pass was also the main factor to Sakuragi's game-winning shot.
Since the beginning, they are really water and oil as Sakuragi considers him as an obstacle to win Haruko's heart and he was everything Sakuragi wanted to be, which makes them the polar opposites of one another. Their only similarities are being strong fighters and not academically inclined. Whenever Sakuragi makes a mistake or is being scolded by Akagi, Rukawa always comments on him "Moron" comically, which always enrages Sakuragi. But deep inside, Rukawa always knew that Sakuragi can put his abilities to a better use, instead of wasting time competing against him. In the game against Sannoh, Rukawa made the last pass, which enabled Sakuragi to have the winning shot. The two of them celebrate their victory with a high five, before resuming their rivalry once again.
Sendoh is the ace player of Ryonan, he is the most known rival of Rukawa and always wants to challenge him to find out who is the best ace player. They always had a 1 on 1 match up during their game practice and in the real match. However, Coach Anzai believes he is still weaker than Sendoh. To be the strongest ace player, Rukawa challenges Sendoh 1 on 1 but their game ends in a tie.
Sendoh gave Rukawa a teaching that being an ace player is not just challenging someone else through 1 on 1. An Ace has many weapons and attack is only one way.
Sawakita is the no. 1 player in Japan. He plays basketball since he was a child. During the match between Sannoh and Shohoku, Rukawa kept challenging Sawakita in a 1 on 1 match up but the difference in abilites is just too big. Despite this fact, Rukawa is still persistent but finally came to realize the meaning behind Sendoh's words after their 1 on 1 match. Rukawa decided to pass and eventually gained the upperhand as he found out Sawakita's sole weakness. Sakuragi also had his share against Sawakita.
- To Hotta's gang: "I don't forgive those who disturb my sleep no matter who they are."
- To Akira Sendoh: "Let me tell you something: basketball isn't math."
- "No matter what, I will be #1, and I'll beat anyone who stops me from achieving that."
- To Tsuyoshi Minami: "Who do you think Japan's #1 player is? Must be the person who can lead the team to be the #1 in Japan! I will become that guy. I won't be #2 or 3."
- To Eiji Sawakita: "If Sannoh is the #1 in Japan, then I'll just have to destroy them."
- To Hanamichi Sakuragi: "Everyone knows that an amateur like you will make mistakes. Like paying taxes, it's unavoidable."
- To Eiji Sawakita: "I will also go to America. Today, I'm going to defeat you here, then I'll go."
- To Hanamichi Sakuragi: "If you don't want to be subbed, then follow me with your life."
- Rukawa chose Shohoku High School because it is close to his home.
- Rukawa cheered for Sakuragi during the latter's dunk against Shinichi Maki of Kainan.
- He doesn't seems to notice that Haruko has a crush on him.
- Whenever Sakuragi and/or Kiyota makes an error or are in a funny situation, Rukawa joins in and calls them idiot, moron, or stupid.
- Sakuragi sometimes call him "Fox"
- Rukawa is also considered as one of the troublemakers along with Sakuragi, Miyagi and Mitsui due to their fighting history.
- It is presumed that he have realized, he doesn't need to go to America to become the #1 Basketball player in Japan. At the end of the manga, he was shown wearing an All-Japan Junior Camp Training Shirt at the beach where Sakuragi is.
- Rukawa is likely based on NBA legend Michael Jordan, as he is considered at the end as the strongest player in Japanese High School basketball. They both have the same black armband, style of play and an incredible sense of 1 on 1 that allows them to defeat any opponent. However, when faced with Eiji Sawakita, he was completely overwhelmed and has to change tactics by passing the ball. The match-up between him and Sawakita somewhat resembles a younger Kobe Bryant vs Michael Jordan who is considered the best player of his time.
- In the original English Dub of the anime, His given name becomes 'Kaeda' instead of 'Kaede' in which most of the casts in English calls this name.