Rajon Rondo has been many things to the NBA in his brilliant roller coaster career. He started out as a bright light and spark on a veteran team, helping them win a championship in 2008 and nearly averaging a triple-double in the playoffs in 2009.
Now he has found himself as the aging superstar who is battling injury and trade rumors as he attempts to try to find his place as the cornerstone of a young rebuilding team in Boston. His career seems to be the exact opposite of many others, as he landed in the middle of the spotlight early, but seems to be fading in his prime.
What exactly does Rondo offer in the near future to the Celtic’s or any other team that may be considering his services? They say the best way to judge a player’s successes is by the names he is mentioned with, and as far as that goes, Rondo finds himself in good company.
- He was the first Celtic player with two triple-doubles in the same playoff series since Larry Bird and the first player with multiple triple-doubles in the same series since Jason Kidd.
- He broke Bob Cousy’s franchise record for most assists in a single season in 2010.
- That same year he became the only player beside Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson to have 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in a playoff game.
- In the 2010-2011 season he tied Isiah Thomas as the only player in NBA history to have at least 24 assists in a triple-double, and his 50 assists in the first three games of the season tied John Stockton’s NBA record.
- He is also the only player beside Chamberlain, Kidd and Magic Johnson to have at least 15 points, rebounds, and assists in the same game.
Not only has Rondo etched his name in history alongside some of the great players in history, but he did a lot of it playing in the shadow of three All-Stars, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. His story seems to be that of a legend, hustling and willing his way to success while rubbing shoulders with the best, who has started to lose his luster from the battle.
He attracted my attention not only by being a gritty and determined player, and one of the most fun point guards to watch, but also by being a role model to my nephew, who is a point guard on his high-school team, and is Rondo’s self-proclaimed biggest fan. After watching the two of them suffer similar injuries on the same weekend, on very similar shots, I had to wonder.
Now the tables are turned and, Rondo is shadowed by injuries and trade rumors rather than superstars and all-time records. The main question that looms over Rondo as he tries to rush his recovery from an injury to his left hand, is will this final season of his contract be one where he reestablishes himself as a Celtic great and as the leader of their rebuild, or are they simply showcasing his talents to attract trade partners.
It may be too early to tell, but it seems the Celtic’s who drafted lottery pick Marcus Smar, who doesn’t currently score well enough to play the two, and will apparently have to earn his keep passing the rock, have already started to move on from their oft-injured, but dazzling point guard. Rondo who is only a couple of years from hitting the 30 year landmark has played just over 40 percent of games in the past four seasons.
No matter Boston’s decision, it seems unlikely that Rondo who is known for his stubbornness, and attitude, whether it’s the one that drove him to his streak of 24 games with ten or more assists, which matched Stockton’s longest streak, and was second only to Magic’s streak of 46 games, or the one that ended that streak when he was ejected for fighting in defense of then teammate Kevin Garnett, will ever give up on himself.
As we watch Rondo work himself back into shape from his most recent injury far ahead of schedule, I would hesitate to doubt his desire to succeed. He seems to be filled with loyalty and pride, and I would hate to be the one who bets against his future success.
The Rondo that thrilled us played hard-nosed, unrelenting defense, and wowed us with slick passing, unbelievable quickness, and superior knowledge of how the game should be played. The Rondo that stands before us now, seems to have lost a step, and his defense is adequate at best, but he still knows the game and remains one of the best passers in the league, even though the Celtics have failed to surround him with any true beneficiaries of those skills.
What I see is a player who has made it through the best and the worst that the league has thrown his way, and is willing and determined to continue to succeed.
The best case scenario I envision, would be that the Boston Celtics would see exactly what they have, and gamble on him to lead their team back to glory.
I think we are staring at a player who is on the verge of reemerging, and reinventing himself as one of the top players in the league. I see too much potential and drive to ever imagine him just fading so soon into the horizon. There are plenty of teams out there who should appreciate his skills and determination in mentoring a young team, or being the missing piece of an already established squad.
I’m just hoping that whoever lays their money on Rondo, looks into his heart and mind and sees a star that can shine not only now, but one that will cast his light on the history and future of the NBA, and hopefully he will be able to parlay their trust into one more ring before it’s all said and done.
No matter what the future holds, this season, my nephew and I will be sitting in front of the television, watching, waiting, and cheering for what in our opinions is one of the most fun and exciting players who has stepped onto the hardwood.
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