Forever A Fan


I think my all-time favorite Rondo performance/moment came May 7th, 2011. The Boston Celtics were hosting the newly equipped (LeBron James era) Miami Heat. The Celtics were down two games to none, so Game 3 was likely the deciding game if Miami would have won. In a game in which the Celtics were winning 60-50 with 7 minutes and change left to go in the third quarter… it happened. With the shot clock running down, Dwyane Wade drove at Rajon Rondo and took Rondo down. A hard fall had landed right at Rajon’s elbow. As he lay on the parquet floor of the TD Garden, the Boston crowd grew quiet and became sickened as they watched their All-Star point guard roll around in pain. Their championship aspirations were beginning to flutter away into the rafters with the 17 championship banners. Fan’s looked at each other, realizing this core of blue-collar employees wouldn’t be adding the much-wanted 18th. Not only was time running out on the season, but time was also running out on the beloved Boston Big Three that won the city their first Championship since 1986. Rondo patiently walked back to the locker room under his own power with a determination in his eyes and holding that arm steady. The Celtics didn’t look the same to close out the quarter; they were missing their floor general. Rondo came back to the team’s bench at the start of the 4th quarter without any fanfare. He checked into the game and continued to play the entire 4th quarter using only his right arm! Rajon wasn’t being passive because that isn’t the type of player that he is. He was getting defensive stops, steals, rebounds, using only his right arm. His left arm was essentially useless, but he still grabbed rebounds and through one handed passes to his teammates for the rest of the game. Rajon even managed to get a dunk. This game was the epitome of what being a Boston Celtic had meant to Rajon Rondo. He was going to do whatever he needed to assure that his team was able to get the W.

After the game Rajon was asked by the reporter, “What’s it feel like right now?” Rondo replied, “It’s still broken. I mean it’s a painful feeling, but I’ll be fine. It’s no big deal. It’s not an excuse. I’ll be ready to play in two days.”

THAT is heart!

February 6th, 2005. That was my first NBA game that I ever went to. I was eight years old at the time and the Minnesota Timberwolves were hosting the Boston Celtics. I got to watch a guy named Paul Pierce score 32 points in the game and knock down two dagger free throws at the end of the game to go on and beat Minnesota 103-100. I’ll never forget it because that was the day that I became a fan of the Boston Celtics and my love for the team would only continue to grow.

The following season I was watching Kentucky basketball and was really intrigued with the no-look, behind the back passes, and flashy plays from their point guard, Rajon Rondo. I’d never seen a player with the passing ability of this guy before (still haven’t). However, it wasn’t just the flashy passes that caught the eye of my just turned 10-year-old self. I was amazed with the energy and passion that this college player was playing with. He looked like a coach on the floor with the way that he’d motion players around the court with his ridiculously long arms and tennis racquet sized hands. Rajon would dive for loose balls, or rebounds in a meaningless blowout win for Kentucky. He played like every possession mattered (and continued to do so in the NBA). Commentators would always knock Rajon for his “inability to hit a jump shot”. I never understood why it mattered if he could defend, rebound, pass, and lead at a higher level than all the other point guards. It seemed pretty simple that if you were to surround him with great offensive players than you’d have a chance to be great. Well, to me at least.

It was only destiny that the Phoenix Suns had drafted him with the 21st pick in the 2006 draft, only to trade him to my Boston Celtics. It was very exciting to me knowing that this young talented guard would be joining my favorite player, Paul Pierce, on my favorite team, the Boston Celtics. After two short years the Celtics traded for Garnett and Ray Allen. I couldn’t believe how much talent my Celtics had gotten, so quickly. Rondo’s name had been thrown around in trade rumors numerous times already. Ainge was able to talk Seattle into Delonte West, rather than rondo in the Ray Allen trade; and was also able to make Minnesota settle on Sebastian Telfair in the Garnett trade. Thankfully, the assist guru was able to stay in Boston and develop into the player he is today – an unselfish team-first triple-double kind of guy.

Everybody knows what happened next. The Celtics went on to have the biggest record change in a single season in NBA history, as they won the Finals over the rivaled Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

Rajon Rondo got his ring and that’s something not a lot of players can say. Sure, he may have been the 4th best player on his team behind Pierce, Garnett, Allen but what people don’t understand is how much he meant to that team. Rondo was their sparkplug, creator, and play maker. He absolutely got after it defensively with Kevin Garnett (who went on to win Defensive Player of the Year). Rajon Rondo would pick an opponents pocket so fast that he’d be laying the ball through the basket by the time the other team had even turned to play any transition defense. Obviously the passing was huge from him that season (and years to come with that core), but he made passes as a second year player that nobody in the league could make. Whenever he would get out in transition with that team he became an unstoppable offense within himself. Rondo made plays in the finals as a second year player that would make fans jaws drop. He brought back the “dream shake” and made Andrew Bynum look stupid on national television. Rondo was guarding KOBE BRYANT down key stretches of games during the 2008 finals, but nobody wants to talk about how he contained the MVP of that season on the games biggest stage. Rajon made many plays during the playoffs that season, mostly in his ability to distribute the basketball. In each round of the 2007-08 playoffs Rajon’s assist-to-turnover ratio was 5.2, 2.3, 3.0, and in the Finals 4.4. Second year point guards just don’t do that. Rajon was even knocking down jump shots during that series that people said he wasn’t able to. It drives me crazy how people say Rondo wasn’t productive with that team. People need to spend more time watching the games, rather than box scores and highlights.

Rajon was the little brother to that group of men, but as the time advanced he became an equal. Rajon was able to harness traits from the Big Three that allowed him to pass his ageing friends in skill level and eventually made him into one of the most admiring players in the league. Magnificent, competitive, mercurial, passionate, breathtaking, adrenalizing, relentless, blue-collar, fierce, enigmatic, and prideful are all words that illustrate Rajon Rondo. In other words, Rondo is a CELTIC.

However, the one word that I think people don’t know describes Rajon Rondo is “misunderstood”. He gets labeled as “selfishly unselfish” because he looks to pass more than he does to shoot, so there for he must be “just trying to pad his stats”. Rondo is called a “hot head” because he throws a ball at a referee, or bumps one because he is so wrapped up in the middle of the game that he can’t even fathom that a referee would make a game-deciding call. Rondo has a “bad attitude” because he isn’t afraid to start fights on the court, or yell at teammates and coaches because he has the soul of a basketball assassin. Rondo is a very funny, sincere, honest, and shy person off the court, but once that opening tip-off happens he becomes a warrior. There isn’t another player in my lifetime that I would take in a point guard foxhole over Rajon Rondo. He is the epitome of a competitor and will do anything to win. He says it all the time “I’m the leagues best point guard”, or “I’m one of the three best players in the league [LeBron James & Kevin Durant]”. Rondo says these things because that is how he feels; he’s telling the media the truth. That is why I will miss Rajon Rondo so much. He isn’t scared! He isn’t afraid of anything.

One of my favorite memories of Rajon is in when the Lakers were playing the Celtics in a 2009 (maybe 2010, can’t remember) game and there was a loose ball that Rondo went for and got tangled up with Kobe Bryant. Well, Rondo got up without showing any fear and shoved Kobe Bryant as if to say “Don’t forget I just owned you in the Finals”. And the look on Kobe’s face as he pointed his finger out at Rajon was priceless.

Rajon Rondo is a great player, but he is an unbelievable playoff player. If you want to talk about players showing up when it matters, when all the chips are on the table; that is Rajon. Not a player besides maybe Kobe loves the postseason like Rajon does. Each night is his night to go out and absolutely play as hard as he can. I’ll tell you what, there’s nothing like watching playoff Rajon Rondo either. I touched on it before already, all the things that Rondo “can’t do” he does in the playoffs. Maybe people don’t see how good of a player Rajon is because they don’t watch as many Celtic’s games as I do, but every time that I’ve watched #9 step onto the court he makes a handful of spectacular plays that look average. Maybe they are routine for Rajon, but regardless, he’s no average player and that’s for sure. Just take a look at a few of the big games Rondo has had in the playoffs.

May 9th, 2010 Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Game 4 – 29 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists

June 17th, 2008 Vs. Los Angeles Lakers Finals Game 6 – 21 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, and 6 steals

2009 First Round Vs. Chicago Bulls – Becomes first Celtic since Larry Bird to record two triple-doubles in a playoff series, ties NBA record in Game 6 by dishing out 19 assists WITHOUT a turnover.

May 30th, 2012 Game 2 ECF Vs. Miami Heat – 44 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds – only player to ever put up those three numbers (or more) in NBA playoff history.

The Dallas Mavericks are getting an absolute steal. They were missing a great point guard in a Western Conference littered with good point guards. I fully expect Rajon to go out and play even harder each night (once he becomes comfortable) now that he is back on a contending team. I believe that Rajon pushes Dallas into the same discussion as San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Everybody is good in the West, but those three teams are just a tier above everybody else. Rajon is surrounded with shooters, playmakers, and great big guys. He is the Swiss Army knife of point guards and can do it all, the ultimate distributor.

It’ll be a lot of fun watching Rondo go toe-to-toe in rivalry games against Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, etc. It’ll be weird rooting against him when he returns home January 2nd, but I can’t wait to see the standing ovation during the starting lineups when Eddie Palladino lets out a “Rajon Rondoooooooooooooooo!!!” I’m actually happy for Rajon and am excited for the future of the Celtics. I’m going to miss seeing Rajon wearing green, that’s for sure, but I won’t forget what he has meant to our franchise. I’ve been watching Rondo for nine years now and never thought I’d miss a player so much, but all good things come to an end. It’s amazing how I can see a picture of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo together and it feels like it was yesterday. We witnessed basketball history over the last several years. And as the last piece of the 2008 title team puzzle departs from home, I just want to say thanks for the memories Rajon; thanks for the memories.

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