Doyle Rader: Rajon Rondo has been the most refreshing and entertaining player in the NBA during the playoffs. This no better illustrated than just before game four of the Eastern Conference Finals a friend, who doesn’t like basketball, called me up and asked who that player on the Celtics he should watch is. I told him it was Rondo. The Rondo Lore is growing by the minute.
Against the Heat, Rondo has been putting on a clinic with his passing, fakes, jukes, and even his jump shot. Though he does prefer to score at the rim as indicated by his Game 4 shot chart.
He does it all for the Celtics without getting tired. He has played 681 minutes in the playoffs thus far, more than any other Celtic. Paul Pierce is second but is 20 minutes behind (fouling out doesn’t help).
All of these factors have helped grow the legend of Rondo, who before now was frequently mentioned in just about every trade rumor coming out of Boston. Trading Rondo is a silly notion as he is by far the most valuable asset the team has going forward, especially with the breaking up of the Pierce-Ray Allen–Kevin Garnett core looming on the horizon.
Rondo is the Celtics’ Garry Kasparov. Much as been made about his unpredictability being one of his greatest assets but to accept that is to ignore the fact that Rondo is entirely plodding and methodical in his approach to the game. He is one step, if not more, ahead of the competition directing his players like pieces on a board. Rondo vehemently waved off Pierce, who was looking for a transition three in Game 4, and directed him to cut to the bucket. The result was an easy lay-in. Rondo’s court vision has just been superb.
Travis Huse: Rondo’s a different breed of NBA player, but his is a style I envision taking over the league within the next few seasons. He’s like Fat Lever, but with Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd‘s triple-double capabilities, all hopped up on bath salts and Cap’n Crunch. But you’re positively on point with the Kasparov reference (Did you catch Ray Allen’s chess quote last night?), the little guy is so manipulative with his head-games.
Remember when he tried to sneak into the Heat’s huddle last season? It was in the middle of a huge Celtics run in the 3rd quarter, both as a small display of bravado and as a way to keep the Heat thinking about him. What at the time seemed like a silly move to pester another team is now tactical warfare. Rondo had a triple-double that game, and the Celtics won by three.
DR: To quote the kids these days, “Rondo gives no fucks.” He is out there to play basketball and to win. A perfect example is what he said to Doris Burke at halftime when he flat called out the Heat for constantly bitching to the refs about calls. This is the type of mentality that every coach can appreciate when your team is battling for the right to the NBA Finals. Miami is Rondo’s enemy, why should he show them anything but contempt. He does not respect them right now, nor should he.
Also along the line of giving no fucks, have you seen what he has been wearing in the post game pressers? Not only is his game on some next level future shit, but is wardrobe fluctuates from the 1980s to the 24th century.
TH: He’s good for the league in his disdain. The “super-team” mentality of the Heat takes away from the real reason people love to watch sports: to hate another city with a burning passion. When players group together as players, marketing personal brands over team identity, the whole thing seems to matter less. It is much cheaper to watch a pick-up game down at the park if you’re looking for a good-natured buddy game of basketball.
Playing with fire, drive, and even hatred is what makes you a champion, and the sports culture in Boston thrives best under those conditions (I think Boston as a whole survives based on a constant undertone of street fighting, to be honest). The team has 17 trophies to show for it. Pat Riley exhibits this trait, but the rest of the Heat organization is lacking in that regard. Erik Spoelstra can’t really invoke that championship fire in this squad, and the squad itself isn’t built for it. I simply do not believe that they are playing for the sake of basketball. Rondo is, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win, and he will do it in ways never seen before.
DR: With Boston, it’s all about narrative. It’s who they are. They are never favorites and have been written off more than once. Their quest for recognition and glory is all that matters with their storied past. I for one am happy that Rondo is the protagonist of this particular chapter.