Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, in an interview on WEEI's Mut & Merloni Show on Thursday, suggested that he feels increasingly comfortable with a growing leadership role. The 26-year-old said that, at the start of last year, teammates Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen made clear that it was Rondo's time to be a leader of the Celtics.
"I was 20, 21 when I first got here. I'm 26 now, my seventh year in the league. Actually, last year, the Big Three and I had a meeting at the start of the season in Doc's offense. They told me they gave me the keys last year. I just want to continue to grow as a player and as a leader on this team, being more consistent everyday on and off the court," said Rondo. "I think each year my role has gotten bigger since we won the championship. A lot of people are saying this year, it's my team this year, I'm the leader this year. But obviously, the past couple years I think I've been a leader. Trying to let my leadership expand each year. This year, I guess it's at an all-time high, but I just want to go out and play hard for my teammates each and every day."
As a leader, Rondo made clear that his loyalties are solely to his teammates. Asked if he "hates" opponents such as the Heat or Lakers (a claim made by new teammate Jason Terry), Rondo suggested that he's not looking to make friends with players from other teams.
"Hate’s a strong word, but I agree with my teammate," said Rondo. "We don’t like anyone. It’s our job to go out there and win. We’re not trying to be friends with anybody. I think KG shows it best. He plays with a lot of intensity. He has no friends out there on the court, and that’s our mentality. That should be everyone’s mentality. We're competing. There’s no friends on the court.
"I use the phrase, even if you were playing against a family member, your mother, you still go out there and try to beat her," he continued. "It’s just a matter of just competing. We love to win, I’m very competitive. Anything I do, I want to win. So I don’t have time for friends. I don't talk to a lot of guys in the offseason, so why I should talk to them on the court and try to be their friend? I'm friends with my teammates. I know I’m a great teammate. Other than that, if you’re not my teammate, I could care less."
Rondo also discussed the evolution of his game this year, chiefly, an increased willingness to take jump shots. In the early-going, Rondo is 14-for-26 (53.8 percent) on jumpers.
"I'm just taking it more this year. I'm not passing it as much, as far as passing up my shots. I have my mind set up to take the jumpshot. I'm thinking about myself, shooting the ball, instead of always thinking to pass the ball to one of my teammates," said Rondo. I've been doing it in practice. It starts in practice. That's what I've been trying to do consistently, taking the open shot in practice.
"I've been shooting six, seven, eight jump shots a game," he continued. "Obviously, I've been hitting a lot more this year and I've been taking a lot more. I think it's a part of repetition. I don't think you can get in a rhythm when you shoot one or two jump shots, so I've been trying to make a conscious effort of, when they go under, to shoot the elbow jump shot, regardless of whether I miss or make."