During a 95-83 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics was involved in an in-game brawl which spilled into the stands. The fight resulted in Rondo, Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace being ejected and Rondo's streak of 37 consecutive games with double-digit assists being snapped.
Through all of the controversy, however, we must not lose sight of the lasting truth: Rondo sticking up for Kevin Garnett was far more important than ending his legendary streak.
The brawl began when Humphries committed what appeared to be a hard foul on KG. Rondo immediately reacted by facing up Humphries and shoving him deep into the crowd along the baseline.
For those interested in the results of this brawl, Humphries posted a picture of the gashes on his arm (via Lockerz.com).
The fight is likely to result in suspensions and elevated tensions in this budding rivalry. Although this was not near the infamous New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets brawl between Nate Robinson, Carmelo Anthony and company, this could lead to multiple-game absences.
Just don't think Rondo regrets it for a second.
I am not condoning Rondo's actions, as violence has no place in the NBA. There are children watching in person and on television, which makes each NBA player a role model whose every action is followed and cherished.
Strictly from a basketball standpoint, however, this is the type of incident that will act as a defining moment in the Celtics' season.
As for those who believe this will be nothing more than a blemish, think again. Rondo is the established leader of this Celtics squad, and that fact grew more evident as he stood up for his teammates.
It's not as if KG can't fight his own battles, but this serves as a sign of things to come from Beantown.
If the Smallest Man Fights, the Largest Ones Battle
When the 6'1" and 186 pound Rajon Rondo opted to fight 6'9" and 235 pound Kris Humphries, a message was sent. Not only will Rondo sacrifice his body to make a play and win a game, but he will also defend his teammates in even the most extreme manner.
Now if that doesn't inspire the Celtics to play harder, what will?
Rondo's career can be summed up by a matter of individual moments, including this fight and his infamous elbow dislocation. Both times, Rondo came back to play through pain and adversity to attempt to lead the Celtics to victory—even if it meant further damage to his body or reputation.
For a Celtics team that has lacked the sense of urgency we are used to seeing from them, there is no way around how influential this moment could be. The Celtics go as Rondo goes—which suggests that they will view this as motivation.
After all, we are talking about the likes of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. These aren't exactly the type of players who would react negatively to this course of action.
Solidifying Status as Leader
Over the past few seasons, many have speculated as to who the leader of the Boston Celtics truly is. In a September interview with The Boston Herald, Paul Pierce confirmed that Rajon Rondo was indeed the guiding force.
Rondo looked great today. He’s pushing the ball. He looks strong. He’s knocking down his shot. He’s TAKING his shot. But that’s what we want from him, and that’s what we’re going to expect from him. You know, he’s our leader. We’re going to look for him to do a lot of good things for us.
If that does not suffice, try asking Kevin Garnett and Keyon Dooling.
According to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston, Dooling and Garnett praised Rondo and claimed that the team was his to lead. From organizing team dinners to creating team practices and extracurricular activities, Garnett sums it up when he says, "It was Rajon's show."
He is the most underappreciated leader in this league. Do you know how many times we were at the Rondo family home [last season]? We were there all the time, bonding, building team chemistry. It's time for people to recognize how much Rondo means, not only to this great franchise, but to this great sports town. It's time they got to know the Rajon Rondo we've all been embracing for some time now.
His own teammates have declared it. It's time for fans believe it, too.
Kendrick Perkins' Replacement?
When the Boston Celtics won the 2008 NBA Championship and made the 2010 NBA Finals, they were led by a handful of stars and an enforcer. That enforcer went by the name of Kendrick Perkins, who played more than just center.
He was the muscle, defending his teammates by consistently taking a physical course of action.
Since Perkins has been traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Boston Celtics have been forced to rely on their finesse with no brute force on the interior. Although Kevin Garnett is the furthest thing from soft, this team's identity has been just that: without muscle.
With Rondo stepping up as a fearless leader and standing up for his teammates, however, the Celtics' confidence has been restored. No matter how small Rondo may be, watching him tackle Humphries into the crowd sent a message to opponents.
This team has their enforcer, no matter what size he may be.
The only question worth asking now is how long it will take for the Celtics to embrace this no-nonsense mentality.
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