The Boston Celtics' loss to the Detroit Pistons was discouraging for a lot of reasons. They played sloppy basketball for pretty much the whole game. It was their fifth loss in their last six games, and it dropped them down to the dreaded .500 mark.
It was a downright frustrating game for the Celtics. It's therefore rather fitting that the game will be remembered for Rajon Rondo's display of frustration in the third quarter.
If you missed what happened, Rondo was ejected for tossing the ball at a referee shortly after a play in which Rondo thought he was fouled. It was the second of two technical fouls in the span of five seconds.
Here's the video:
In Rondo's defense, he had a legitimate gripe. It looks like there was some contact on his shot attempt, and then Greg Monroe basically jumped on him. There's got to be a foul in there somewhere, whether it was called on the shot or after the shot.
This doesn't excuse what Rondo did, though. He made a stupid mistake, one that should have the Celtics worried.
The simplest reason why the Celtics should be concerned is because it could lead to a suspension. A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com reported via Twitter on Monday that the NBA is reviewing the incident, and that further punishment could be forthcoming.
UPDATE: Rondo has indeed been suspended. Mark Muphy of the Boston Herald says Rondo has been suspended for two games.
While a suspension is worrisome, the Celtics should also be concerned about this incident because Rondo lost his cool. More often than not, Rondo is calm, cool and collected when he's out on the court. He's as competitive as they come, but he's not exactly the most demonstrative player in the Association (a la teammate Kevin Garnett).
Because of that, you can't help but wonder if there was more to Rondo's outburst, that maybe the no-call was merely the last straw for him.
There's definitely a lot of things Rondo could be upset about. The team's struggles in recent weeks obviously stick out, but it would be stupid for any of us to ignore the fact that Rondo's name has repeatedly surfaced in trade rumors for several months at this point.
Most recently, Bill Ingram of HOOPSWORLD reported late last week that Rondo's name keeps popping up in rumors, as the Celtics are initiating trade talks with other clubs. It seems Danny Ainge is intent on trading him, or at least gauging the market for Rondo.
Whether or not there's any truth to the rumors, Rondo is not blind, deaf or dumb to them. Rumors have a way of reaching players' ears, and it's not unheard of for them to affect a player's mindset. Just look at the Pau Gasol situation out in Los Angeles.
To clarify, I'm not saying that any of these things are at the root of Rondo's little outburst on Sunday. I'm merely pointing out that Rondo has reasons to lose his cool these days.
Whatever the reason(s), the Celtics can't have Rondo losing control like that. The Celtics are built around the Big Three, but Rondo is the glue that holds the team together. He's always played the part as perfectly as it can be played. He's a superstar with the demeanor of a role player who's just happy to be there.
On Sunday, Rondo played the part of a superstar diva. That's just not his style. If the Celtics are to get back to playing good basketball, it goes without saying that Rondo's outburst needs to be an isolated incident.
If it's not, this team will fall apart completely.