This isn’t a story about Rajon Rondo’s stats. This isn’t a story about his triple-doubles, double-doubles, assists, or increased scoring. This isn’t about a rookie point guard with no jump shot, who worked on his jump shot, and is now money-solid from the outside. This is about how in a matter of two to three years, Rondo made himself into the All-Star he is today, in circumstances that would’ve shattered most people.
In his first year as point guard for the Boston Celtics, Rondo was called reclusive and unopen. He kept to himself, never letting people in any deeper than surface level. He only spoke when necessary and didn’t show any trust. This may have had more to do with the absent parent issues he’d been carrying with him since age seven, but his NBA debut wasn’t making things any easier.
By all accounts, being drafted into the NBA should be a dream-come-true. Rondo’s immediately became a pressure-filled nightmare. Imagine, being a rookie point guard and suddenly finding yourself flanked by three of the best basketball players in the league: Paul Pierce, the tough, longtime captain of the team, the stalwart of the Celtics, and since forever– the centerpiece of the franchise. Kevin Garnett, loud, aggressive, intensely passionate about winning, and brought here for one reason and one reason only: to win a championship. Same with Ray Allen, a future Hall-of-Famer and career three-point shooting record breaker. He also played “Jesus” in Spike Lee’s film about professional basketball. Imagine these three, brought together on a mission for NBA rings, and your job, newbie, is to run the plays for them.
Most everyone else would have crumbled, but not Rondo. In his second year with the Celtics, he helped these three legends get their rings, including a deserved one of his own. But it isn’t so much the fact that he contributed to their championship run, as it is how he did it. As the new blood, the greenest one among the green, he created a new way of playing for himself, which is not an easy thing to do when you’ve worked your whole life to improve the style you play now. But he did, to make getting the ball to these three franchise pillars his priority, and he not only got them the ball where and when they wanted it but he also filled in the scoring gaps during rare offensive droughts. He was given a role so specific it would’ve eaten away at any other player’s psyche, ego, and drive. All this in a nation of green, a place historically accustomed to basketball championship dynasties.
Rondo was handed a roadmap to Pluto, written in Chinese when all his life he’d been studying a map of Earth written in English. He had two options: success and a championship, or failure and the door. Even for a veteran the challenge would be daunting, and that’s not to say it wasn’t for Rondo, nor does it continue to be. So given the opportunity, do not let a chance to watch him work pass, for you will truly miss a story so unique it almost went by unnoticed. Despite the severity, intensity, and overwhelming nature of the challenge handed to him, Rondo took it head on and succeeded. What’s more, he continues to improve on it.