Jackie MacMullan (Probably my current favorite sports writer) wrote another one of her wonderful pieces on Rajon Rondo recently, about Rondo's new emergence into the spotlight as a leader. We've heard all the jazz this summer aboutRondo organizing workouts in Los Angeles, and the heavy amount of time and detail he put into those. The most interesting parts of this article are not about Rondo's current leadership role, but how Rondo was unfairly treated for being unfriendly to the media and a much more private person than other players of his talent. With all of this new information, I think we can see a side of Rondo that we could never really see before.
Illusion vs Reality is a popular theme in literature, and I see that its pretty prevalent in real life as well. What has been the popular image about Rondo for most of his career? A brilliant and talented headcase. A guy that you could never lead a locker room. A guy that is difficult to get along with. Most of these accusations weren't unfounded however. There were quotes, stories, etc. from reliable sources like Doc Rivers himself. The infamous "your teammates hate you" speech Doc gave to Rondo his rookie year. The "Rondo throws water bottle at screen" incident. All of these things happened, and do count against Rondo. But I think as more and more comes out about how a lot of his teammates think about him, starting with Dooling's amazing retirement interview, we should view pre-2012 Rondo differently as well.
One of the most surprising things about this article was the Avery Bradley part. First off I had no idea Rondo and Avery Bradley had such a close relationship. The closest I ever remember seeing them being was eating dinner after the Perkins trade. Its pretty incredible that Rondo, was was supposedly this really unfriendly guy who didn't like leaving his comfort zone, would actually take this rookie under his wing. Rondo may not show it openly, but I think Rondo is actually a very compassionate person who truly cares about his friends and associates, and will do his best to make their lives better, as well as he can. This extends to Rondo on the court. He wants his teammates to get better, he wants them to do well. Sometimes this mentality can hurt him, but the affection his teammates feel when he supports them like that is something that is hard to define. Rondo also clearly showed how passionate he was, and how much he wants to interact with the people he likes. The activities he organized for him and his closest friends (Daniels, Dooling, Wilcox, and Garnett), and the way he latched onto them show a softer and weaker side.
This post isn't to give Rondo a slap on the back. He has had several rocky points during his career, and did not respond well to them. But I think its really heartwarming that even throughout the time where he was busy making everyone in the league think he was a jerk, he was making friends and having people be comfortable around him. Rondo was a leader,no matter what people want to say, he just wasn't open about it. Things like telling Daniels to stay ready for action, are what leaders do. Of course Rondo is still growing and learning. A leader not only holds up others, he holds himself to a higher standard so the people beneath him can aspire to be like him and follow him. I think Rondo is very close to breaking through to this peak, as he already has the respect of many players around the league. Rondo has grown up a lot. Hes experienced a lot of things. Rondo is the main attraction now, the guy who will get most of the blame and most of the credit. I've watched Rondo ever since he was drafted in '06. Its been an amazing run since then, and I can't wait to watch him grow even more in the future. And you know what? I think he can't wait either.