My top 5 memories of Rajon Rondo in a Boston Celtics uniform

I became a Celtics season ticket holder the same year that Rajon Rondo took over the reins as the club's starting point guard.  The following are my top five Rondo memories from his time in Boston.  Obviously it's a subjective list, which is why it's called "my top five" rather than "the top five."  Clearly there are tons of greats ones I've left out, but these are the five that for whatever reason resonate the most with me.

No. 5: "The greatest triple-double in 44 years"

March 3, 2012: Celtics beat Knicks in overtime, 115-111

This was the second ridiculously entertaining game in a month between Boston and New York at the TD Garden (the Celtics pulled out a 91-89 thriller on February 3), and the building was rocking.  The single biggest highlight of the game was this crazy three-pointer from Paul Pierce to send it to OT:

However, it was Rondo who was the star of the show.  This contest took place during the bizarre phenomenon known as "Linsanity," when Jeremy Lin was inexplicably dominating headlines nationwide.  I think that pissed Rondo off, as he responded by torching Lin and putting up the most dominant stat line of his career.  I remember constantly looking up at the Garden scoreboard as his numbers crept higher and higher, wondering if he might actually get to 20-20-20.

Rondo finished the game with 18 points, 17 rebounds and 20 assists, the greatest triple-double posted in the NBA in 44 years:

No. 4: "The night his elbow bent the wrong way"

May 7, 2011: Celtics beat Heat 97-81 in Round 2 playoff game

Boston trailed Miami 2-0 in the second-round series, but the C's held a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter of the first game back at the Garden.  I was unfortunately working behind the bar that evening and wasn't paying close attention when Dwyane Wade tackled Rajon Rondo.  But I heard somebody say "Rondo just broke his arm," so I stopped what I was doing and watched the replay.  Instantly I was sick to my stomach.

All I could think of was that the season was over.

But then somehow it wasn't.

After having his dislocated elbow popped back into place, Rondo returned for the 4th quarter.

How Rondo was able to effectively play point guard the final period with basically one arm I'll never quite comprehend. But he did, and the Celtics pulled away for a 97-81 victory.  Rondo finished with six points, 11 assists and three rebounds in 35 minutes of action.

After work that night I watched the game over again on my DVR till about 5:30 in the morning. I think I had goosebumps the entire time.

No. 3: "The diving hustle-play unlike any other"

May 22, 2010: Boston beats Orlando 94-71 in Game 3 of Eastern Conference Finals

The 2009-10 Celtics finished the regular season 50-32, the fourth best record in the East.  In the second round of the playoffs they shockingly eliminated the top-seeded Cavs, ending LeBron James' career in Cleveland (or so we thought).  Boston then matched up with the defending conference-champion Magic in the East Finals.

The Celtics took both Game 1 (92-88) and Game 2 (95-92) by close margins in Orlando before heading back home for Game 3.  It was a must-win for the Magic, but still Boston jumped out to a huge early lead, doubling up Orlando 34-17 just three minutes into the second quarter.

And then Rajon Rondo did this:

From that point on the Magic were done. The C's cruised to a 94-71 victory and a 3-0 series lead on their way to an NBA Finals date with the Lakers.

I don't remember ever seeing another play like this in an NBA game.

No. 2: "One of the most outstanding playoff performances in NBA history"

May 30, 2012: Celtics lose in overtime to Heat 115-111 in Eastern Conference Finals Game 2

Rajon Rondo's final stat line on this night: A career-high 44 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and three steals.  I'm not even exaggerating when I say that on this particular evening Rondo looked like one of the best jumpshooters in the NBA.

For the game he made 16 of 24 (66.7 percent) attempts from the field and 10 of 12 (83.3 percent) at the free-throw line, but that doesn't even come close to telling the whole story.  Rondo also shot 10-for-12 from beyond 15 feet, including 2-for-2 on three-pointers.  His previous career high for field goals made from 15 feet or further was only six.

Rondo played all 53 minutes and he scored all 12 of Boston's points in overtime.

In the history of the league, no player had ever before posted at least 44 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists in a playoff game.

As soon as it was over I remember trying to put what I'd just seen from Rondo in perspective.  And then I got a text from my dad that said "That performance tonight by Rondo may have been the most amazing sports effort I have ever seen. Wow."  The fact that it somehow didn't result in a Celtics victory was just sad.

Despite the agonizing defeat, Boston rallied to win the next three games of the series before succumbing to the Heat in seven.

No. 1: "The dunk heard 'round the world"

March 5, 2008: Celtics beat Pistons 90-78

Detroit was the top seed in the East the season before, and entered this game with a record of 44-16.  The Celtics were in the first year of the "New Big Three Era," still trying to prove themselves as legitimate contenders despite cruising along at a 46-12 pace.  The two teams had split a pair of meetings earlier in the season, with each club winning on the other's home floor.  This contest was a showdown for Eastern Conference supremacy going forward.

At the time Rajon Rondo was an untested point guard in his first year as the starter, considered by many to be the Celtics' weak link.

With Boston clinging to a five-point lead midway through the third quarter, Rondo decided it was time to announce to the world his intentions of becoming a force to be reckoned with in the NBA:

My seats in the TD Garden are in the lower corner behind the basket Rondo dunked on.  Watching the play unfold, I noticed him begin to accelerate, then kick it into high gear.  As Rondo charged right in my direction I remember thinking to myself "Holy $#*%, he's going to dunk this."

The audio in the clip does not even begin to do justice for how nuts the Garden went after Rondo threw down that jam in Jason Maxiell's face.  What blows my mind about the play is that Rondo clearly decided he was going to dunk before he even crossed half court--and with the other nine players on the floor all in front of him.

Rondo finished the game with 16 points, five assists and two rebounds.  With the win that day the C's became the first NBA team to clinch a playoff spot that season.  Rondo's dunk was the defining moment of a game that propelled Boston to the No. 1 record in the league, and set the stage for the Celtics' Conference Finals victory over the Pistons on the way to Banner 17.

Follow Mark Vandeusen on Twitter @LucidSportsFan