SQ #29--A Ring of Truth (or Not)

Summer Quandaries #29
Aug 29—32 Days to camp

A Ring of Truth (or Not)

One of the truths of sports blogging is that almost everyone is making extrapolations and drawing conclusions, and almost always from too little information. As readers we are left to apply the sniff test, and if it passes, try to apply our knowledge to further the line of thought or to refute the premise. It is also true that most of us have access to the same sources (blogs, tweets, and occasionally an actual report from a legitimate media type). Now not all people make use of those resources, and when we do then those sources are subject to the same prejudices and variations of interest that color every aspect of our lives. What we glean is always filtered by what we want to believe or hate to admit.

It is with these screens and tinted lenses that the following stories occupied my mind through much of the day. What was of particular interest to me was that my reactions to the two articles fell rather close to the opposite ends of the spectrum. Both offered conclusions on current events with relevance to the Celtics. Both presented supposition as if it were fact—a particular peeve of mine. (It is a failing to which I fall prey on a regular basis but it is something I at least try to avoid. Standards are great, everyone should have at least two. Perhaps I can use this as a reminder to present opinions as just that, opinions.) Both elicited one of those deep primitive responses, those mental equivalents to a knee jerk reaction. In each case the almost unconscious head nod was followed by a storm of thought that quickly rolled over into an examination of why I reacted so strongly.

The first piece that caught my attention was
Rudy Fernandez Would Have Same Problems in Boston That He Has in Portland at NESE.com by Evans Clinchy. Evans contends that a Rudy acquisition is bad on all levels. Bad deal for Portland because Boston has less to offer in trade. Bad for Rudy because he would “have the same problem here as he did in Portland -- too many good teammates, not enough time to shine.” Bad for Boston because “The Celtics are stacked. And the last thing they need is a rising star who's antsy for more minutes and more touches -- the only thing they want is a modest role player who can settle into the position of Doc Rivers' 15th man.”

Now I will agree that Boston’s (probably) late first round pick is less than Chicago can offer but it might well be better than a NY pick two years down the road. I will also agree that in Boston he would have a lot of good teammates. However in Boston the starter is 35 years old and a borderline All-Star rather than the 26-year-old Roy who is an All-Star in his prime. The SG backups in Portland are Wes Matthews, their biggest splash of the off season, and #22 pick SG Elliot Williams. In Boston the backups are Von Wafer, primarily known for his repeated exits with prejudice, and #19 pick, combo guard Avery Bradley recovering from ankle surgery. Far from their being little opportunity, it would seem there are minutes available immediately and a starting position in the future, and that’s not even considering the greater injury worries for the aging Allen. Now certainly a malcontent could be a divisive force but I would argue the exact thing Boston needs is a rising star that can push for a greater role. Now it may well be that this trade cannot be achieved, but I certainly believe that it could serve both Boston and Rudy well.

The other article that triggered my curiosity was a BleacherReport column by Frances White, Rajon Rondo Learns Lesson from Team USA Experience. Now I would beg to differ with a number of Frances’ assertions. In my opinion “Rondo's meteoric rise to being a top tier point guard has proven to be the force behind his stubbornness” is just plain wrong. By most accounts Rajon’s stubborn streak is well documented well back into high school, present throughout college, and the source of considerable conflict as soon as he arrived on the Celtics. To say that the international game “exposed his short-comings and made it an easy choice for him to walk away” flies in the face of the unrevealed details of his departure. White does bring up an interesting point, however:
“It is somewhat interesting to hear that Doc Rivers was a fan of the Rajon Rondo experiment on Team USA. Doc understood that in the company of his peers, Rondo would be forced to acknowledge why there were detractors of his game.

He was judged not only by them, but in one of the best coaches in college basketball Mike Krzyzewski—in this case, coach don't lie!

Like Doc Rivers, Coach Krzyzewski is very astute at evaluating a player's strength and weaknesses. He doesn't mince his words and team needs always override player feelings.”

Whether or not Doc “understood”, it is true that having a second, and trusted, source of feedback certainly enhances the effectiveness of constructive criticism. Just as having Garnett or Pierce, or Ainge for that matter, emphasizing focus or Ubuntu reinforces the message. This aspect of Rondo’s foray into the Team USA experience may well be the most important “take away.”