Danny Ainge defends Rondo's "I haven't played defense in a few years" comment
This past Friday prior to the Celtics home game against the Dallas Mavericks and the returning Rajon Rondo, the former Celtics captain made some statements that set the Boston blogosphere on fire, again sparked a polarizing argument on his commitment to the Celtics, and drew this reaction from Gary Tanguay.
Of course some people were upset, but Danny Ainge-- publically-- was not one of those people. He spoke candidly about Rondo’s comment and add some clarify which some people will agree with, and other people will be clamoring with happiness over something else to bitch about.
Some were upset with the statement, believing it revealed Rondo had given less than his best for the Celtics or that it spoke poorly of coach Brad Stevens, who took over the team prior to last season.
“First of all, our whole focus was defense… I think when Rondo was talking about not playing defense the last two years, it was taken out of context.”
WHAT?! The comments of an enigmatic All-Star who didn’t get along with the Boston media made comments that may have been taken out of context?! That’s bananas.
“I think he was referring to the fact that Avery (Bradley) would always guard the tougher man, so he could coast more, though that certainly wasn’t the intention. Defense has been a major priority of Brad from the time he arrived here.”
“But I believe Rondo did play defense,” Ainge added, leaving unsaid that the team had asked him to play more simple, stay-in-front-of-your-man defense rather than reaching for steals.
“I don’t think he meant to say it the way he did. The way I interpret it is that now out in the Western Conference he’s going to have to be the guy that defends Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillardand those guys every night, where here he could rely on Avery to take a lot of that burden off of him.”
The Western Conference might as well be a different sport. It is a different situation that he is in and Rondo is playing differently in a different system.
After his offensive explosion against the Celts, Rondo explained it by saying, “With this particular team, coach (Rick) Carlisle told me from Day 1 he needs me to be a lot more aggressive.”
Which he did last Friday. Whatever- just boo him in your house if you want.
Danny Ainge has NEVER minced words when it comes to someone who is no longer on the Celtics. He was upfront about his relationship and feelings towards Doc Rivers when he was traded to the Clippers, he was adamant about his decision to trade Pierce, Garnett, and JET last year, he has been open about what the Celtics are trying to achieve, and was quick to say that the Rondo trade was a tough pill to swallow knowing they gave up the best player in the deal. Why on earth would he make excuses now?
Did Rondo play All-Star level defense in Boston? No.
Did he do other things to help the Celtics? Yes.
Is he a doing different things on a new team? Yes.
No matter which way you fall on the Rondo trade, it’s a new era in Boston. Focus on that.