Rajon Rondo has long been the most polarizing sports figure in Boston.
Skipping his rookie year in 2006-07, during which you would have been hard-pressed to find anyone with much of an opinion on any Celtic considering the team went 24-58, Rondo detractors have been feuding with Rondo backers.
In just his second season, the cantankerous point guard was thrown into the NBA pressure cooker as there were many pundits who claimed the KG-Allen-Pierce –led C’s couldn’t win a title with such an immature point guard.
But Rondo surpassed those low expectations in the 2008 postseason, posting double figures in points in 15-of-26 games that spring while giving on-lookers a glimpse into the future with two “Woah, we might have something here” double-double games.
The expectations heading into every season since have grown exponentially. It started with, ‘can Rondo be an All-Star?’ That gave way to several years of ‘can Rondo be the Celtics’ leader?’ Today, it’s ‘is Rondo a top 10 player in the league?’
Now, there’s no doubt that Rondo has grown as a player since 2006-07. And in today’s warped sports world, that’s all we should expect for any player under the age of 30. But the main gripe still is that people just aren’t sure if he’s grown as a man.
His chest bump of referee Marc Davis in a playoff game last year was eventually overshadowed by the fact that he looked like the best player in the league in several of those postseason games. The thought was that No. 9 had turned the page when it came to this sort of stuff … but then we found out that he’s no fan of former E! superstars when he shoved Kris Humphries into the third row at the Garden.
Still, his play on the floor this season has been largely brilliant and shockingly consistent. He has posted double-figures in either points or assists in every full game he’s played this season. The Celtics may be just 11-9 on the season, but even the most anti- of the anti-Rondo crowd would agree that those nine losses have little to do with his on-court play.
We’ve gotten to a point with Rondo where it seems that even if he did not get a technical foul for the rest of this career, the haters would shout ‘IMMATURE’ from the roof-tops when his name was in the conversation as ‘best in the game.’
Last Saturday on WEEI’s “Dale (Arnold) and Kirk (Minihane) Show,” the bashers were out in full force. One guy claimed Rondo wasn’t even a top 10 point guard, let alone a top 10 player in the league. Another claimed Tony Parker was the more talented player – he of the one career triple-double (Monday night against Houston). If we’re keeping score, Rondo has 24 career triple-doubles.
All this came less than 24 hours after Rondo nearly posted a triple-double against Philadelphia … in the first half alone!
Will Rondo ever be an NBA choir boy like a Shane Battier or Grant Hill? Unlikely. That edge he plays with is part of what makes him great.
But he still has a legit chance to at least improve on his bad boy image.
In 2005, Paul Pierce was 27-years-old and got ejected from a playoff game against the Pacers, swung his jersey over his head while leaving the arena and showed up to the postgame press conference with bandages over all over his face.Today, Rajon Rondo is 26-years-old and has experienced worlds more playoff basketball in his first six years in the league than Pierce. But like Pierce in 2005, Rondo is still learning the NBA ropes.
We want to rush to judgment on him, but we should at least enjoy watching him learn the process – one triple-double and one ejection at a time.