Confidence. It’s a quality that’s part and parcel with professional athletes of every stripe.
Confidence makes the average player good and the good player great. Confidence is the difference between a Little League slugger destined for bigger diamonds, and the kid sitting Indian-style picking grass in center field. We’ll call him Trevor.
But there’s an ultra-fine line between being confident and straight-up delusions of grandeur.
Rajon Rondo just up and zoomed past it on a motorcycle made of fire and lies.
“The top three NBA players in the league right now,” Rondo said, “I would have to say Rajon Rondo, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.”
Unless Rondo is afflicted with some yet-to-be-named disease that causes people to say “Rajon Rondo” when they actually mean “Anthony Davis,” we have to assume he’s being serious.
And wrong. Very much that.
Also, don't think for one second the order in which Rondo rattled them off was some kind of happy accident. He knew what he was doing. He's more wrong than a broken clock at a time other than the two predetermined moments in which it is correct. I really have to work on my analogies. Anyway, he knew what he was doing.
There was a time when one could make the case for Rondo as one of the league’s top five point guards. And a compelling case it was: the cat-quick perimeter defense, the uncanny vision and impossible coordination in traffic—Rondo was, and in many ways remains, one of the game’s most unique, enigmatic talents.
He’s also happens to be a famously idiosyncratic personality and once responded to losing a game of Connect Four (to a 12-year-old, mind you) by whipping the snot out of him five straight times thereafter.
Read: If there’s anyone complex enough to overcompensate for some imagined slight or seemingly benign setback, it’s this guy.
A more cynical scribe would suggest Rondo is merely inflating his imagined worth in a strange effort to attract more trade suitors—a scenario that hasn’t exactly subsided in recent weeks.
Here’s Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale on that very score:
If the Celtics aren't sure—totally, wholly, incontestably sure—if Rondo is their guy moving forward, there's little sense burning valuable cap space on him. The more palatable play could be to trade him ahead of the February deadline, capitalizing on his value while he's still playing 30-plus minutes per night, breaking down defenses, flirting with triple-doubles regularly and ensuring he remains part of the best point guard conversation.
Despite his slight statistical decline, Rondo remains an asset well worth pursuing—for the right team, of course. At the same time, with so many elite-level point guards in play, it’s worth wondering whether the most realistic suitors might come from the ranks of the middling.
Flaws and learning curves aside, Marcus Smart remains a very real long-term solution for the currently rebuilding Celtics. That, more than any other single factor, is what makes Rondo the sitting deadline duck so many believe him to be.
As for being one of the best three players in the world: Better Rondo believes it than not.
After all, the worst-case scenario is he’s wrong. But the best case is—nope, still wrong.