Rating the 5 Things Motivating Rajon Rondo to Win Another NBA Title
Judging from what we've seen so far this season, Rajon Rondo appears to have finally put it all together—a truly scary development for the rest of professional basketball. The lethal combination of improved shooting, improvisational playmaking ability and an unparalleled wherewithal to manhandle every game's tempo has not only made him a strong contender for MVP, but it's increased Boston's already legitimate chance of winning the NBA championship.
If that were to happen, it'd be the second of Rondo's career, and the first with him as the leader and best player on his team. Winning a title would not only solidify this particular era of Celtics basketball as one of the most successful in franchise history, but it'd seriously boost Rondo's reputation and stature as one of basketball's all-time great point guards—a fact I'm sure he's more than aware of.
The rationale may be obvious, but here's a breakdown of five reasons Rondo is motivated to win the NBA title this season.
Pound for pound, Rajon Rondo might be the toughest player in the NBA. We learned this during the 2010-11 playoffs when, thanks to a Dwyane Wade takedown, he returned to a game after having his arm bent at an unnatural, grotesque angle. (It should be mentioned that the Celtics won that game.)
Rondo is old school in that he doesn't chum around with his fellow players, and he has gone on record saying he doesn't have any friends around the league who aren't currently on the Celtics. He's a competitor, through and through, with a cutthroat mentality shared by the likes of Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. On his personal basketball priority scale, it goes winning, winning, winning, then winning.
This reason alone is enough motivation to carry Rondo for the rest of his career.
Separation from Peers
With the point guard position being as deep as any in basketball over the past few seasons, Rondo's name has been mentioned near the top of the list, but never as a unanimous No. 1. That spot is still correctly reserved for Chris Paul until further notice. But if Rondo can win a second NBA title, he'll do so as the best player on his team. He wouldn't have a point guard colleague who could say the same, and it'd be difficult to argue against him as the best.
Being that he led the NBA in assists per game last season—and is the far and away favorite to repeat the accomplishment—Rondo is already recognized as elite when it comes to making those around him better. A championship would end "who's the best point guard" conversations in convincing fashion, with Rondo's name echoing as the last one standing.
The Celtics have seen some of the league's all-time great point guards pass through their organization. From Bob Cousy to Nate Archibald to Dennis Johnson, Boston's had the pleasure of employing some of the game's greatest leaders.
A second championship would officially move Rondo past them all (if some believe he's not already there) and into discussions that hold a wider scope.
20-assist games in Celtics history: Rajon Rondo 6, Everyone Else That’s Ever Worn The Uniform Including Cousy And 23 Other Hall-of-Famers 5
— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) November 18, 2012
Rondo is still getting better, so it's difficult to predict where his career will end up. But recognition as not only the best point guard in Celtics franchise history, or of his generation, but in the history of the league might be a possibility. He's talented enough to enter the conversation, but a championship this season would be necessary.
Silence of Critics
Since entering the league, Rondo has faced countless (and mostly accurate) critiques of his idiosyncratic skill set: the faulty jump shot, the awful free-throw shooting, the inconsistent aggressiveness. However, a second championship—this one coming with him as the best player on his team—would make people forget about nearly all of his negative attributes.
As of November 18th, Rondo is shooting an incredible 50 percent from 16-23 feet, according to Hoopdata.com. This may not be sustainable, but at the very least it's a stark improvement, and it proves that Rondo has improved in an area of his game that critics feast upon.
If the Celtics win the NBA title this season, in all likelihood, Rondo's shooting numbers will be a career best. There won't be much for people to harp on.
Unless either the greatest playoff upset in NBA history takes place, or LeBron James suffers a devastating long-term injury, the Boston Celtics will need to get past the Miami Heat if they want to win the NBA title.
James' decision to join the Heat can partly be attributed to his inability to get past Boston without any All-Star-caliber teammates when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He needed to match Boston's star power, and the best way to do that was signing with Miami.
Ever since, these two teams have despised each other, and the Heat have ended the Celtics' season in the last two times they met in the playoffs. Off the court, the distaste is evident, with Ray Allen's unpleasant departure sprinkling even more gasoline on an already roaring fire.
Rajon Rondo stands in the middle of it all, never mincing words for his hatred of all things Miami Heat. He's the only question on Boston's roster that Miami has admitted on multiple occasions of having no answer for. All championships taste great, but you get the feeling it would be even sweeter for Rondo if he had the pleasure of making the Heat suffer.