Coming into the offseason, many basketball fans thought highly of Rajon Rondo. He had just come off some of the best performances of his career in the playoffs, and certainly his best year as a professional basketball player.
However, Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics had different thoughts. Rondo's been mentioned in recent trade rumors involving the C's and the upcoming NBA Draft. It's been said that Boston executives are targeting teams that currently hold first-round picks.
Despite a team source denying the rumors, there's still discussion swirling about concerning one of Rajon's negatives: his attitude. We all know that the kid is stubborn, and he can sometimes be cocky and a little too independent (not listening to Doc's advice, going about his own way), but the point guard has talent. He is a magnificent rebounder and has also put his passing ability on display.
To boot, he is capable of scoring 30 points a night, something that may very well occur on a regular basis if he can develop a jumpshot.
He can also play excellent defense. Rondo has been pegged as one of the league's top defenders, and by some the best defender playing the PG position. He has a lot of moxie and leadership within him, which is intriguing if you're looking for a guy to step up for your team in a few years. Rondo has already taken on the role of on-court leader, as he has recognized that a point guard must be vocal in order for his team to succeed.
And succeed the Celtics have. In the past two seasons, Boston has been in contention for a championship with Rajon quarterbacking. They won a title in '08, making for the franchise's first since the 1985-86 season, and earned first place honors with a 66-16 record. This year, although the result wasn't as glorious as the previous year, they were a top team amongst the other powerhouses in the NBA, including the world champion Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
But I know that his demeanor still worries most of you, so I have prepared three excuses for Rondo's attitude problem, just in case you're not satisfied yet.
Rondo Has to Deal with Three Somewhat Egotistical Stars
For two years now, Rajon has had to battle through problems with three of some of his most talented teammates: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Allen has been the most trouble out of the three mentioned, on the court at least. Ray doesn't waste any time letting Rondo know that he's upset with him. You'll know by Allen shouting at his starting PG that Rondo missed an opening on the wing.
In the locker room, I'm sure he has to sit down with Kevin Garnett every once in a while due to a poor performance or a slump he's in. Garnett, like Allen, does not beat around the bush. If he has something to say, he'll voice his opinion. He will get to his point quickly and sharply. There's no doubt in my mind that Rondo has had to swallow some pride at times while listening to Garnett mentally slap him around a little bit.
During practice, guys like Paul Pierce are sure to come over and point things out. He may not be as harsh as KG and Ray-Ray, but he won't stand for constant errors on the court. He can act like a mentor and an enforcer at the same time. Either way, young guns like Rajon Rondo will benefit. While Pierce may not be the most friendliest at times, he's probably Rondo's favorite one to talk to out of the trio.
And not only does he have to deal with them bashing on him, but he also holds the responsibility of distributing the ball to them. Rondo has to make decisions game after game whether to pass to KG more often, Ray more often, or Pierce more often. He has to make the choice of whether or not to pass to one star or another when multiple other guys are open.
It takes a lot of effort not just physically, but mentally too. I can understand why Rondo can get fed up sometimes.
Doc's Hard on Rondo
I must admit, I'd love to play for a coach like Doc Rivers. Since he has playing experience of his own, he is patient with his players. He is seen as a guy you can joke around with, but also a guy you can go to when you need advice on and off the basketball court.
Because Doc was a PG, he is more demanding of his guards. He asks a lot from Rondo as the starting point guard, which at times can frustrate and anger the budding star. The two often feud about Rondo's game style and tactics. It can sometimes lead to sideline arguments, in the middle of a game no less.
Rivers can also be very constructive towards Rondo. Doc has an exceptional basketball IQ, and his knowledge is still expanding as his coaching career progresses. Rondo may become a much more intelligent point guard under Rivers' guidance. He knows minor things like floor spacing and disruptions (e.g. tips on defense) can be very effective if used at the right times and on certain opposing players.
Rondo himself said that he's a stubborn kid. Although veteran teammates may try to approach him with suggestions on how to improve, I sense that he blocks the advice out. He may feel that all advice he receives may not necessarily be productive, as, like I hinted above, the "Big Three" aren't always so tolerant with their youthful teammate. Assumptions are made by Rondo, bad blood is suspected by other teammates, and that is that.
But that can all be fixed naturally, and over time. Rondo is still at a juvenile age. His immaturity and puerile thoughts can all be smoothed over as he ages. His inexperience seems to be concealed on the court. He plays with a sort of swagger and confidence only a veteran does, and he gives off some sort of a sophisticated aura when playing. But in the locker room, his attitude could turn completely in the other direction.
Hopefully Danny will keep him and he can show that he does have those leadership qualities within him.