For the past couple of season, nobody has been singing Rajon Rondo’s praises more loudly than me. If you go back through my basketball columns, it seems as though every other article is “My God, look what Rondo did last night.” At this point in his career, I would without hesitation call Rondo the second best point guard in the NBA behind Derrick Rose. I know that comment is going to draw all sorts of criticism, but in my eyes a point guard’s job is to distribute the basketball and Rajon Rondo is averaging 2.5+ more assists per game than anyone else in the NBA. Tony Parker and the Chris Paul are that far behind.
Perhaps more indicative of why I hold Rondo’s game in high regard is his absurd ability to produce triple-doubles. A triple-double game is one where you’re doing it all. Last year Rondo was second in the league in triple-doubles behind only Lebron James. This year Rondo had 6 triple doubles… the next highest in the league was 1. Not to mention that Rondo also led the league in steals.
Whatever your measure, I could care less at this point that Rondo can’t shoot a jump shot (although he’s improved this season). The fact of the matter is he doesn’t need to – he gets to the hoop and scores, and is deadly in the fast break. But regardless of his game, Rondo needs to check himself. He’s turning into a grade-A punk now that his talent has become undeniable around the league. I went to a game earlier this season where Rondo had scored 31 points two minutes into the second half. After nearly every bucket, he glared over at his own and the opposing bench seemingly saying “Did ya see that?” Yes, we saw it Rajon. Now get the hell back on defense.
The whole referee bumping incident of this past week is really just the icing on the cake. Rondo may have cost his team that game, and very much hurt his team’s chances in game 2 of a playoff series. Luckily he had Paul Pierce to bail him out, but Rondo was still unapologetic saying, “I don’t have to prove anything to anybody. The world knows what I can do.” Yes, the world knows what he can do, but this incident has me looking at Rondo more closely with an eye towards the future.
What will happen to Rondo as he ages and loses that extra half step of quickness that he has right now? What happens when an all-time great is not there to bail him when his team goes down 0-2 in a playoff series because of him? It’s hard to imagine a point guard’s game that I could love more than Rondo’s, but I sure as hell don’t love the attitude. I’m all for great athletes being a bit cocky – to be the best, I think you need to be. But this can be done without hurting your team, and it’s up to the Big 3 to keep Rondo in check.
With the Derrick Rose out, the Celtics now have a very, very slim glimmer of hope in this year’s playoffs. But Rondo will need to be on the court for the Celtics to have any chance at all – and unlike Derrick Rose, it was Rondo himself and not an injury that took him out of the game.