WALTHAM -- Rajon Rondo made it clear Friday at Celtics media day how big of an impact Kevin Garnett has had on him in his career. Rondo said after losing Game 7 of the Eastern finals to the Heat in Miami, the first thing he did when he got on the bus was to ask Garnett if he were coming back.
"I can probably say Kevin is my closest friend on the team," Rondo began. "Kevin always wants to see me do well. From Day 1, I think my second year when he first came in, he told me he would be disappointed if I wasn't the MVP of the league one day, if I wasn't considered one of the best point guards one day so he's always pushed me and expected more out of me than a lot of people did. He's always showed me how to become a better person each day. Whenever I mess up, Kevin's always the one who tells me you should do this, or conduct yourself this way or handle it that way.
"He's been kind of like a big brother/mentor and he's always wanted the best for me so that's how we sort of gravitated toward each other. Obviously, off the court, we have a lot of things in common. We share the same interests in a lot of things. He's been like a big brother to me. The way he goes about the game, the way he approaches the game. He's a future hall of famer, I consider one of the greatest players to ever play the game who's been in front of me. So, he's inspired me to work hard, come in every day, come in get extra shots, taking care of my body, getting proper rest, getting massages, getting treatment and getting stretching. This is how to have longevity in the NBA. He's played for 17 years and only two or three players can say that in this era."
Rondo showed his leadership recently when he invited Garnett, Paul Pierce and others out to Los Angeles as a final getaway from Boston and the rigors of training camp. He played in a pickup game and then organized a flag football game.
"I think each year my role has expanded as far as being a leader, maturing every year and trying to accept the role more," Rondo said. "The LA thing was just trying to get guys away from the [practice] facility before we start to work and get back focused and to focus for this championship. I actually wanted to go to Vegas at first but Vegas didn't work out. Paul and Kevin were in LA and I just wanted to take everyone out there so we could play together, get a little bit of chemistry before we started and have a little fun.
"We ended it off with a flag football game. Of course we won. I passed [for] seven touchdowns."