Rajon Rondo Dishes on His Current and Future Status with the Boston Celtics
Rajon Rondo is currently touring the world, representing Red Bull's "King of the Rock" one-on-one tournament while running skill camps in basketball-crazed nations like China and the Philippines.
In typically atypical Rondo fashion, the unselfish assist artist is waiving the banner of the one-on-one game that has no passing. He's also taking his wholly unique playing style and teaching it to people around the planet. He recently took some time to chat with Bleacher Report over the phone about his idiosyncratic style of play and his place in Boston Celtics history.
Bleacher Report: What are you up to in China?
Rajon Rondo: I actually just did a clinic in Hong Kong. So this is my last stop here. I’ve been to Taipei, Manila, and my last stop is here in Hong Kong, and I just finished a clinic.
B/R: You talked about being interested in the basketball culture in the Philippines. I was wondering: What made you interested in that culture?
RR: Just common sense. The fans are crazy there. It’s unbelievable how many Celtic fans are there, how many Rondo fans are there. They bleed basketball. It’s like being home in Boston, but kinda on steroids. Population of about 93 million, and they show a lot of love. A lot of fans understood the game of basketball, and I think they could relate to me because I'm not the biggest guy on the court, but I play with a lot of heart.
B/R: I hear that they play in sandals. Did you see any of that? Could you ever see yourself playing in sandals?
RR: As I grew up, I played in sandals. I played in flip-flops all the time back in the day. That’s why I didn’t really care about spraining my ankles. When I first started in the NBA, I loved low-cuts. I can play (in them), because I used to grow up playing in flip-flops all the time.
B/R: I’m really interested in how you’re doing a one-on-one tournament because you're such a good passer. Do you enjoy playing one-on-one because you’re doing something completely different from your usual playing style?
RR: Actually, I don’t play one-on-one anymore. I’m just the face of Red Bull King of the Rock. It’s just something different. Everyone does three-on-three tournaments or five-on-five tournaments. I think Red Bull King of the Rock is something unique.
B/R: You have a lot of unique aspects to your game. One thing comes to mind: You’ll do a lot of pass fakes, even when you’re standing completely still. When you do the skill development with younger players, do you give them advice on how to do some of the unique things that you do?
RR: It depends on the talent. I did a camp in Manila. Those guys were pretty advanced, so I taught them a little bit more of my tricks and why I do them. Versus the camp in Hong Kong, those guys are pretty young. They’re like 15 or 14 years old so it would have been hard to kind of grasp why I do so many ball fakes.
B/R: Do you ever wonder why more guys in the NBA don’t do what you do with the ball fakes?
RR: I don’t know (laughs). I have no idea. I don’t want them to pick up on it, ya know? I like having a unique game and doing my own thing.
B/R: When did you come up with the ball-fake strategy, because, guys throw ball fakes when they’re on the move, but you do it when you’re planted. Is that just something that came instinctively?
RR: I just came with it. It’s actually funny. A lot of my moves, it just comes out. I don’t really predetermine or practice.
B/R: Did you always have the eurostep or was that something that you learned?
RR: Nah (laughs), I learned the eurostep. The reason why I tried to learn the eurostep is to avoid charges. A lot of guys try to charge on me on the break because they think of my speed, so I have to have a counter for when guys take charges on me.
B/R: Doc Rivers said in the playoffs that you had the green light to shoot a lot. Is there an expectation that you’re going to shoot more next year?
RR: Whatever the team needs me to do. I don’t really want to become one of those guards who take 20 shots, 30 shots a game. But if that’s what my team needs, then I’ll do it.
B/R: You said recently that you wanted to be the greatest Celtic point guard. How far do you think you are from that goal?
RR: Maybe seven to eight years away from it. I plan on being a Celtic for a long time. But things happen in the NBA. You never know. Things could change in two or three years, I could be traded in two or three months. You never know, it's just the nature of the game. As long as I’m a Celtic, I’m going to play extremely hard. And I love being there.
B/R: There have been reports that Ray Allen went to the Heat because there was strife between you and him. Is that overblown? Is there any truth to those reports?
RR: I think Doc answered that question pretty much. I don’t have anything to say about that.
B/R: You’ve been to all these cities around the world. What’s the strangest thing you ate?
RR: In Manila. It was a crazy eel. It looked like it was moving.
B/R: Was it just by itself? Was there anything with it? Was it in some kind of bun?
RR: It was like in a little bowl with tooth picks stuck in it. It tasted as bad as it looked. I think it was worth a shot. I put a lot of spicy stuff on it. I chugged some coke afterwards, so that killed the taste of it.
B/R: You’re working with young talent on the tour. What city had the most talent?
RR: Manila. The clinic I held in Manila, those guys were advanced. I did a couple of my moves and a couple of guys picked up on it very well. I had more of an advanced-skills camp and I challenged those guys to do my moves as far as pick-and-rolls, behind-the-back pass. I didn’t do it traditional, you know, fundamental camp. A lot of my moves are, unfundamental, as you’d say.
B/R: Did you do that because, when you were growing up, fundamental-minded coaches didn't like some of the cool, different things you were doing, and you wanted to do it differently?
RR: I just want to give them something different. I don’t want to come out here and give a boring camp. I want to give them something that they actually see me do out on the court. I don’t want to teach them a regular bounce-pass. I want to show them why I throw the behind-the-back pass to Kevin on the pick-and-roll, why I do my shot fake.
B/R: You do throw that behind-the-back on the pick-and-pop a lot of the time to Kevin Garnett. What’s your favorite kind of pass to throw? Is is that one?
RR: Oh, I like throwing a cross-court one-hand bounce-pass between the defense to P (Paul Pierce). I’ll throw a little English on the ball, throw it between two, three guys that are trying to run extremely hard to the paint. Then you got Paul Pierce trailing for the three—and obviously I’m pleased when he makes it.
B/R: Is there any pick-and-roll coverage that you see when you’re playing that you like going against?
RR: It’s not that, it’s just, it’s the player. It’s not any kind of pick-and-roll defense—I want to pick on the weakest link on the court as far as the big.
B/R: So if a really slow big guy is hedging, then that’s good, but if a really good big guy is hedging, that’s not as fun to attack?
RR: Well, it could be one of the best pick-and-roll guys as far as hedging, like a guy like Anderson Varejao. I like going against pick-and-roll with him, because he’ll show hard, and that way I’ll open up a shot for Kevin. It’s not about me getting the shot. If he shows hard, that means I’m doing my job, dragging the big out. That allows the 16-footer.
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