Boston Celtics: Why Boston Must Embrace Rajon Rondo as the Face of Its Franchise

Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIIMarch 11, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Rajon Rondo #9 of the Boston Celtics heads for the net as Joel Przybilla #10 of the Portland Trail Blazers defends on March 9, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics must embrace Rajon Rondo as the face of their organization.

The Big Three are on the wane, and Boston needs a fresh image to rally around after Paul Pierce cedes the throne.

Danny Ainge and Boston's front office have hesitated to endorse the All-Star to represent the organization's brand.

Their concerns are legitimate.

Rondo has struggled with attitude and maturity problems in the past, including a recent two-game suspension he received for chucking a ball at an official during a game against the Detroit Pistons.

But the Celtics should not focus on Rondo's demeanor when considering the new face of their franchise.

I hate to break the news to Mr. Ainge, who would prefer a team of saints, but many professional athletes have attitude problems.

Ever heard of Michael Jordan?

Jordan's attitude issues continued right through his bizarre Hall of Fame speech, which he essentially used as a platform to criticize every coach, team or individual who had supported him throughout his career.

But the Chicago Bulls weren't wrong for building around Jordan's image. In fact, they would be kicking themselves today if they had let him go citing personality problems.

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 06: Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics celebrates the win with teammate Rajon Rondo #9 on March 6, 2012 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets 97-92 in overtime. NOTE TO USER: User exp
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Boston has something special in Rajon Rondo, despite his attitude. Teams don't come across elite players like this every day.

Rondo is one of the best point guards in the NBA, arguably among the top-five, and his stock is on the rise.

This season, he's averaging 13.6 points, 10.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds, making for the best statistical season of his NBA career. In his last seven games, the point guard has brought home two triple-doubles and a double-double.

As he has proven time and again, Rondo unequivocally possesses the special kind of talent that organizations frame themselves around.

And his NBA colleagues agree.

Sports Illustrated surveyed 137 NBA players, asking them who they would choose first if starting a team from scratch. Rondo came in at No. 12.

It's unsurprising. The point guard can create a shot out of thin air. He moves quickly and decisively and has killer instincts.

This is why Ainge must mold the next generation of Celtics around the 26-year-old All-Star. He is a leader on the court and elevates the level of play of those around him.

Another compelling reason for the Celtics to keep Rondo and build themselves in his image is his reasonable price tag.

Boston has No. 9 under a long-term contract that extends through the 2014 season. The five-year, $55 million deal inked in 2009 is a bargain for the Celtics.

Just compare Rondo's asking price with that of other elite point guards.

In 2009, the New Orleans Hornets re-signed Chris Paul to a four-year, $68 million extension, and Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose penned a five-year, $94.8 million contract in 2011.

As Ainge considers trading Rondo rather than building around him, he should remember that this kind of talent at this price is hard to come by.

Further, Rondo has played in a Celtics jersey over his entire six-season career. Fans rally around players they perceive as loyal to the cause.

The Miami Heat, for example, are still considered to be Dwyane Wade's team—and not just because LeBron James gets jitters in the clutch.

Fans grow attached to players, and like Wade in Miami, Rondo is a Beantown favorite.

Boston's front office needs to recognize Rondo's value as the future face of its organization before another team swoops in to make him their poster child.