Two years ago at this time, Rajon Rondo was trying desperately to prove himself.
Sure, he was fresh off an NBA Finals appearance against the Lakers in which he posted a double-double in both Game 2 and Game 7. But the Boston point guard was still widely regarded as a fourth wheel in most basketball circles.
Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t buying that Rondo was one of the best in the world either. Coach K dealt Rondo a DNP-CD (did not play – coach’s decision) that August against Spain. A few days later, Rondo walked away from Krzyzewski and Team USA.
He has never gone into detail about just how frustrated he was during the summer of 2010, but has offered a few nuggets over the past two years that lead many to believe he is using the slight to fuel his NBA play.
When asked this past April if he would ever have interest in playing in the 2016 or 2020 games for Team USA, Rondo indicated that he’s still quite bitter.
“No I don’t,” Rondo told FOX Sports. “I just don’t. Wondering why? I love my summers. I’ll leave it at that.”
Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon and Chauncey Billups were all considered hotter commodities at point guard by Team USA during the summer of 2010 right up until the summer of 2011.
“I think I’m on the bubble,” Rondo told ESPN in August of 2010. “Just looking at the obvious – I got a DNP last game. That pretty much speaks for itself.”
Rondo’s situation was much like that of Gilbert Arenas’ in 2006. Arenas was one of the best guards in the game during that time period but constantly felt slighted and was fed up with the “star-system” the U.S. incorporates.
“They already knew what they wanted. They said it was a tryout, but they already had their team selected,” Arenas told the Washington Post in 2006. “No joke, I felt like I was the 16th man on a 15-man roster … You’ve got LeBron being LeBron. You’ve got Carmelo being Carmelo. You’ve got D-Wade being D-Wade. Why can’t I be me? Why do I have to transform? I did that and now you are going to cut me?”
Some speculated that Rondo withdrew from Team USA on his own due to the impending cut. At the time, however, USA Basketball officials described his departure as one due to “family reasons.” Either way, it was chalked up to being another odd incident for the eccentric Boston point guard.
If Rondo truly cements himself as a top 10 or even top five player in the NBA in 2012-13, it will be tremendously difficult for Director of USA Basketball Jerry Colangelo to avoid placing a call to Rondo. As of right now, it’s doubtful that Rondo would pick up the phone.