Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there's nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
If Rondo is sincere when he acknowledges his need to change and grow, then the teams that have shied away from him in trade talks will feel like genuine fools in the coming years.
But for now, there remains a cloud over Rondo’s reputation around the NBA. It is a cumulonimbus formation that, deserved or not, is the reason the New Orleans Hornets were willing to accept a pocketful of mumbles in exchange for Chris Paul. An All-Star point guard and various other Celtics merchandise were not good enough.
The whispers that trailed Rondo out of Kentucky still are in his NBA wake. His intellect and heart are unquestioned, but there are times when he leaves on a temperamental journey — when his internal drive is unleashed on others with destructive force.
“I’ve got to take myself out of the equation,” Rondo said the other day. “It’s about the team. I’ve been saying all I want to do is win a championship, so I have to live it. I have to walk it. I can’t just talk it. I know I have to be better
This is a tremendous read. It includes some very good insight into the Rondo trade rumors. The story about Rondo cursing out teammates and smashing a TV with a bottle during a film session after the first two playoff losses to Miami is damning. Rondo's personality has long been part of the problem as much as it has been part of what make him great.
But people have a tendency to forget the human aspect. I'll venture to say all of us are guilty of it at some point. We look at these players as names and numbers… sprites on a screen that magically only exist when we decide to tune in. We forget the human beings behind the numbers.
Rajon Rondo will turn 26 in February. This is about the time in life when a certain level of maturity starts to set in. A maturity that says this:
“I’m not going to point the fingers on anybody,” Rondo said. “Any relationship problems I have with anybody on the team or anybody on the coaching staff, I have to do better as a player and as a leader. You know, I didn’t ask for this role, but it’s part of it — for one, being a point guard, for two, the way I play. So I just have to embrace it better. Each year I think I’m getting better. I may have my incidents, but each year I think I’ve handled criticism a lot better, I’ve been a lot more patient, and I think I’ve grown. KG actually came up to me and told me he was proud of me at how mature I’ve seemed in the first few days. But it’s not just two days; it’s going to have to be consistent throughout the season. That’s what P (captain Paul Pierce) told me the other day: You can’t pick and choose when you’re going to be a leader. You have to do it every day. That’s the biggest thing for me. It’s not just in the games, it’s in practice and in shootarounds in the morning. . . . I’m the first guy out there that people are looking at. You know, I’ve got the ball, so if I’m going to lollygag, then it’s like, OK, well, we’ve got the day off. That can’t be.
“There can’t be any inconsistency about that as far as in my game this year. And there won’t be, because I’ve embraced that role. All eyes are on me, and I’m OK with that.”
I'll ask you (or those of you to which this applies)… do you want to be judged for the rest of your life by your actions as a 24 year old? Do you want your reputation coming out of college to be a part of your permanent record?
Or have you grown? Have you matured? And isn't it possible that what we're hearing and seeing from Rondo stems from some realization that he was, as Felger so eloquently put it, a prick at times?
The last time I posted that headline, a prominent blogger tweeted it out and added "this has the potential to be hilarious." If the Rondo that showed up to camp reverts back to the Rondo of the past, then it might for those who derive pleasure from Celtics' failure.
But this also has the potential to be awesome. Because if this Rondo is the beginning of a more mature leader, then he will be the cornerstone of a franchise that can reload after this year rather than rebuild.
On Page 2: Paul Pierce explains how Kevin Durant kept him on the Celtics for life
“To be honest, I think a lot of things hinged on that draft,” he reflected. “My loyalty or no loyalty, if Kevin Durant gets picked, I probably wouldn’t be here. Even though as much as Danny said he wanted to see that combination — because we talked about it, we even talked about the scenarios and he was like, ‘I want to see you guys play together’ — I thought that would have been a perfect chip for them to move forward without me because then you’d have Al Jefferson, Perkins, and then you would’ve had Kevin Durant.
“And so things kind of just fell into place when that didn’t happen, when we didn’t get that pick. I knew when we didn’t get that pick I probably would be here for the long run because the people that we got, I knew we would trade it for something better.”
People tend to forget how close Pierce was to being out of here. Read the rest of that link and you'll see how Pierce was convinced after that draft to stick around rather than demand a trade.
Paul Pierce has elevated himself in our eyes, and he's finallly starting to get a bit more respect around the rest of the league (once you get past the wheelchair jokes). But in 2005, he was at his lowest point as a Celtic. He came out to do an interview with a fake bandage on his head and the C's had just lost to the Pacers in the playoffs.
I bring that up not to re-live the past, but to re-enforce the notion that people mature. Pierce did, and so can Rondo.
This is another must-read. Especially because it ends with:
“To be here, it’s like how can you leave this?” he said, gazing around the gym. “All this history, all the great players, all the great teams, it would have been tough for me to even leave this knowing that I’m a part of Celtic lure. … If you can win anywhere in the NBA, why wouldn’t you want to stay here and win?”
The rest of the links:
CSNNE: Delonte West signs 1 year deal with Dallas | Pavlovic happy to be back | Ainge still looking for reliable center | Green's physical raises red flag | ESPN: Rookies make most of practice | Ainge likes roster given resources | Quick hits from practice | WEEI: E'Twaun Moore impresses in practice | An updated look at the roster | How Ainge built a roster from scratch | Herald: Jeff Green's medical woes cause concern | Brandon Bass fits in with KG, Celtics | Globe: Celtics fill out roster | Green absence a concern | MWDN: Green out after issue with physical