Rajon Rondo: Admired in Boston, but not beloved. (Mike Lawrie/ Getty Images)
Thursday on Dale & Holley we were talking about the imminent Rajon Rondo-to-Dallas trade in general, and the question of how much he’ll be missed in Boston in particular. I said then what I’ll say now: The answer is, not all that much, really.
Make no mistake, the Celtics just traded their (by far) best player; that’s stating the obvious. And there’s a sarlacc pit-sized hole on the team where he used to stand. I’m not breaking news here by telling you that. What I’m saying is that Rondo was a guy who was admired here more than he was beloved. Appreciated, not embraced. Without him there’s no way they make two trips to the NBA Finals, much less win a championship. But he’s never been that player you felt like you couldn’t live without.
The problem with Rondo was that for practically everything he did that had visions of his number in the rafters dancing in your head, he’d do something that made you want him banished to the Island of Misfit Toys with all the other weirdos.
RONDO’S NICE LIST
Game 4 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals – With the Celtics down 2-1 in the series against Cleveland and coming off a 29-point blowout in Game 3, Rondo posted a 29-point, 18-rebound, 12-assist line for the ages that turned the series around and eventually sent the Cs to the NBA Finals.
Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference finals – Against Miami, Rondo put together a 40-point, 10-assist, eight-rebound effort that hadn’t been matched by any point guard in a playoff game in a quarter of a century.
Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals – Rondo finished off the Lakers with a Kellogg’s Variety Pack of Excellence: 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals.
Then of course there were the flashes that reminded you of other Celtics legends:
And he was no stranger to saying the right things, even on the way out the door:
On the other hand, there was …
RONDO’S NAUGHTY LIST
He chased Doc Rivers out of town – Among other things, he was argumentative and largely uncoachable and had bizarro habits like sitting alone in his car outside the practice facility and not heading in until the last possible second. And he allegedly threw a water bottle at Doc. First of all, who can’t get along with Doc Rivers. And second, who throws a water bottle? Honestly …
He skipped a game on the West Coast last year to go to his birthday party – Apparently that deposit you put down for a reservation at Chuck E. Cheese is a killer.
He broke his hand >ahem< falling in the shower – Athletes have entourages that include security guards, guys who handle the finances, drivers, guys who handle reservations and people who line up women. Why don’t they spend the extra money and hire someone to handle phony excuses? I mean, falling in the shower? That’s the “dog ate my homework” of broken hand alibis. Personally, I would’ve suggested, “An old woman’s car was stuck by the side of the road so I stopped to change her tire for her and broke my hand on the jack.” Boom. Controversy avoided. My services are available, Rajon. You know how to contact me.
He just never got better at important things – I’ve always been a Rondo guy because I believed the things he did well you cannot teach. Speed. Rebounding. Being a pass-first point guard. His effort, which I do not question. And the things he’s terrible at — shooting, free throws — you can get better at over time. Plenty of great players, through hard work, dedication and practice, have done so. Rondo just isn’t one of them. And at this point it looks like he never will be. His career learning curve on shooting could be used to level bookshelves.
And that’s the most important factor here. I think Boston just will not miss Rondo in any real sense because we realize that the next championship-contending Celtics team is not going to have him on it. The only way to get from where the team is now to where it has to go is by dealing him. As breakups go, he is that girlfriend where you know you had a good run with her and probably got the best years of her life, but you never really were all that in love with her. You didn’t hate her, either; you’ll wish her nothing but the best going forward and be happy when she finds Mr. Right. Yet with all the craziness and the arguing, you knew deep down you were never meant to be.
I promise you right now: Rajon Rondo comes back to the Garden with Dallas on Jan. 2 and he gets a standing ovation. After that, he’s just somebody that we used to know.