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The Celtics are now Rajon Rondo's team. The transition began over the past two seasons, but now with Doc Rivers in LA, and Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in Brooklyn — the reigns have officially been given to the Celtics point guard.

For the past six seasons, Rondo has been little brother to Pierce, KG, and once upon a time, Ray Allen. Now a rehabbing Rondo finds himself as the most tenured member of the Celtics, not to mention their only All-Star caliber player.

Two guys who know Rondo quite well, the aforementioned Pierce and Garnett, talked in detail about leaving Rondo behind as they begin the next chapter of their careers with ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. ESPN Boston's Chris Forsberg wrote about their conversation, which will air on the Sunday morning edition of SportsCenter.

Garnett:

"This whole transition, man, we came in as strangers and bonded as brothers," said Garnett, a person whom Rondo has previously suggested was his closest friend on the team. "And I say that with Glen [Davis], Kendrick [Perkins], Tony Allen, with Eddie House and [James Posey], just a connection with what it is.

"When Ray [Allen] left [for Miami last summer] it was hard for everybody there. We saw Doc [Rivers] leave [for Los Angeles last month], that blew us out of the water. It's kind of like looking up at the wave coming. And now we're here so I can only imagine what 'Do's [Rondo] going through. Obviously, I reached out to him, told him what I was going to do or whatever. I'm sure he's dealing with whatever he's dealing with, obviously he's trying to get back with [rehabbing from ACL surgery in February].

"Whatever that whole universe and his world is presenting to him... It's unfortunate. I had to take away that, what you have established as a brother and as a brotherhood amongst each other, is what you take away from it. Although I'm losing a teammate, I have a friend for life. And that's how I look at it."

Pierce:

"Right now, he's injured and I told him this is probably going to be the toughest year of your whole career, mentally and physically," said Pierce. "Physically, you're dealing with an injury. Mentally, you know nothing but winning since you came into the league... You may be put in a situation where you may not win a lot of games. You have to be a leader now, you know me and Kev are not there anymore.

"You have to go through these times. I've been through them. I explained to him how I went through it. I feel like, I'm one of the best players in the league and now... [Rondo is] going to be in that situation for maybe one year or two years, who knows? But you have to be mentally prepared for it, and that's some of the things we talked about."

Whether Rondo has the chops to lead this team is still to be seen. After all, even the staunchest defenders of Rondo would admit that he still has a ways to go in terms of maturity and consistency (i.e. playing much better/harder against good teams on big stages than he does on a Tuesday night in Charlotte). With that said, this whole "Rondo is a talented player but a bad teammate" idea needs to go. His teammates love the guy. You could see it after news broke that he tore his ACL, and you can feel that love in these quotes.

The guy isn't perfect, but a lot of the negative stuff written about him is exaggerated and blown out of proportion. One of my favorite story lines heading in to what may be a lost season is seeing how Rondo accepts the challenge of being not only the best player, but the leader of this team. As Pierce said, he and KG aren't there anymore. It's time for Rondo to show that he's the guy who can lead this team through the rebuild, and much like Pierce during the middle part of the last decade, it won't be easy. But if he pull it off, it will be worth it.

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Michael Dyer 7/20/2013 01:59:00 PM Edit
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