Before the season started, the Boston Celtics were reportedly attempting to trade with the New Orleans Hornets to acquire point guard Chris Paul. After the way Rajon Rondo played in the season opener against the New York Knicks, the team should be glad that trade never materialized.
With superstar Paul Pierce sitting out with an injury to his foot, the Celtics needed a player to stand up and fill his role as scorer and a leader on the floor. Rondo made it clear from the start that he would be that player. He came out playing like a man possessed, playing aggressively on both ends of the floor.
However, with little help for Rondo from the rest of the team, the Knicks built a 17-point lead and it looked as though the Celtics would fade away.
Not if Rondo had anything to say about it.
Rondo led the Celtics in a third-quarter comeback, outscoring the Knicks 35-17. Rondo was not only the leading scorer on the team, but he did the little things that the Celtics needed to win. This included taking an elbow to the face from Carmelo Anthony that resulted in a turnover at a crucial point in the game.
From sensational bounce-passes to aggressive defense, Rondo became the go-to guy on the Celtics. He logged more minutes than any other player on the Celtics and got other players involved with the most assists on the team.
In the past, the knock on Rondo was that he could not hit the outside shot. He showed in this game that he could make that shot and is now a well-rounded player.
In the end, Rondo could not do it alone, and the Celtics failed to stop Anthony and allowed the Knicks to escape with a win.
The jury is still out on the 2011 edition of the Celtics, but one thing is very clear: Rajon Rondo is a keeper, and the Celtics need him on this team.
James Brown is a B/R Featured Columnist and can be followed on Twitter. Feel free to contact James at firstname.lastname@example.org.