There is no off-season in Boston sports because speculation is a full-time-full-contact game. The minute Rajon Rondo signed his $55 million extension with the Celtics in 2009 he has become the subject of constant trade rumors where fans and detractors alike debate his value, leadership ability, and if he really is that good.
I could easily write 2,000 words about the different sides to the Rondo value argument, but I’ll instead answer these questions like the man himself would- succinctly and emphatically. "High." "Strong." "Yes."
During Celtics Media Day, the man who would be Captain was very candid about his relationship with new coach Brad Stevens, on the departures of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, and on how big of a role reputation plays in his approach to basketball. While Boston Globe writer Mark Murphy’s entire piece is worth a read, here are some highlights:
ON BRAD STEVENS & REPUTATION:
“When I’m away I hibernate. I don’t pay too much attention to what the media said about me,” Rondo said of speculation that he would be a handful for the rookie NBA coach from Butler University. “(Stevens) is the same as me — you can’t control the media. He’s been open and honest. What people say is different from when you cross these lines. The coach and I are off to a great start, and we will continue to stay along those lines. I respect him as a man and as the coach of this organization.”
Rondo was asked if said reputation bothered him. If it did, he naturally wouldn’t admit it. “It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “The coach didn’t come in with a negative attitude, painting an image of me from what the media has said. If I have my teammates’ respect and my coaches’ respect, that’s all I can ask for. Everybody else really doesn’t know me.”
Takeaway: Rondo’s first priority is being on the same page as his coach and his team.
Analysis: Are you wearing a green jersey? If you answered no, pound sand.
DID HE SPEAK WITH DERRICK ROSE AFTER HE TORE HIS ACL
“Nope.” – Rajon Rondo.
Takeaway: Rondo’s recovery has been on his own time and following methods and practices that work best for him.
Analysis: If you think I’m missing the first Rondo-Rose match up at the Garden, you are mistaken.
ON HIS RETURN
Danny Ainge “guessed” that Rondo may not play until December, and Rondo did little to alter that time frame. “In the 2013-2014 season. Sometime in the winter, maybe the fall, you just don’t know,” he said of when that first appearance might come. “He won’t have any problem assimilating into how we play, because a lot of it is based on his strengths,” said Stevens. “I’ve watched him a ton, met with him a ton. He doesn’t need to fit to how I’ve played in the past. We’ll fit to him.”
Takeaway: Rondo will play this year and the system in place will accentuate his abilities.
Analysis: When Rondo returns, it’s going to be the Rondo we’ve been missing.
ON THE NEW ADDITIONS TO THE CELTICS:
“I’m excited. We have to get down to the court and compete. I’m a very competitive player and a very competitive person. I miss being out there with my teammates.”
“I’m going to help him, he’s going to help me, and he has my full support,” said Rondo of Stevens. “Whatever he wants to do, whatever he wants to change, I have an open mind. I’ll be accountable to what he asks of me.”
Takeaway: Rondo is traveling with the team and will be contributing in every capacity.
Analysis: Put a C on that man’s jersey.
Whenever news & rumors about Rajon Rondo spin out of control (so… constantly), I sit back and remember the reasons why I see him as the kind of leader this team needs.
1. He doesn’t want to make friends. He wants to play basketball.
2. He won’t play for Miami.
3. He’s not scared of Kobe Bryant.
"You don't want Rondo? Send him my way," Kobe declared. "I love everything about him. Everything. I love his attitude, I love his chippiness, his edge, his intellect, his know-it-allness. All of it. That's what makes championship players. "What guard have you seen at his size that will get you 18 assists, 17 boards and 20 points all in one game? That's unheard of. I love that kid. I always make a point of talking to him during All-Star [Weekend]. He's one of my favorites."
For the foreseeable future, Rajon Rondo is our “guy” and that’s not a bad thing. But by all means, let’s keep second guessing him- it seems to only make him better.
Photo by John Wilcox/Boston Globe
Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter at @padraic_oconnorPadraic O'Connor 10/01/2013 11:25:00 AM Tweet