|Manga Debut||002. "Kaede Rukawa"|
|Anime Debut||001. "The Gifted Basketball Player Is Born!?"|
|Japanese Voice||Hikaru Midorikawa|
|English Voice||Scott McCord|
Bon Reyes (GMA Dub)
|[v · t · e]|
Kaede Rukawa (流川 楓 Rukawa Kaede) is, in many ways, the opposite of Sakuragi - attractive to girls, skilled at basketball, very cold and unfeeling. The only traits they share are that they are good fighters and not academically inclined.
Rukawa is reserved, self-centered, and apparently cares for 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 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 usually stoic, 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.
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 vs 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 on bad terms as Sakuragi considers him as an obstacle to win Haruko's heart. Sakuragi always wants to win against him in everything. Whenever Sakuragi makes a mistake or is being scolded by Akagi, Rukawa always comments on him "Moron" comically, which enrages Sakuragi even more. 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 shoot the winning shot.
Sendoh is the ace player of Ryonan, he is the most known rival of Rukawa and he always want to challenge him to find out who is the best ace player. They always had a 1 on 1 game 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 on 1 on 1. An Ace has many weapons; attack is only one way.
Sawakita is the best ace player in Japan. Ever since childhood, he plays basketball. During the match between Sannoh and Shohoku, Rukawa keeps on challenging Sawakita but their abilities are in big difference. Inspite this fact, Rukawa kept on challenging Sawakita on one on one. However, he finally came to realize the meaning behind Sendoh's words after their 1 on 1. Rukawa decided to pass and eventually gained the upperhand as he had found out Sawakita's weakness, also with a help from Sakuragi.
- Rukawa chose Shohoku High School because it is close to their home.
- Rukawa cheered for Sakuragi during the latter's dunk against Maki of Kainan.
- He never seems to notice that Haruko has a crush on him.
- Whenever Sakuragi or Kiyota or both of them makes an errors or has a Funny Situation, Rukawa also joins in and calls them idiot, morons or stupid. In the Filipino Dub of the series, Rukawa simply calls them as gunggong which is a filipino word of idiot.
- Sakuragi Sometimes call him "Fox"
- 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 stongest 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.