Jackie MacMullan had a pretty good piece on ESPN the other day on Rondo, with a good bit of help from Keyon Dooling. For a guy who's usually presented as a bit of a moody loner, you get a bit of a different look him.
Yet his younger counterparts claim Rondo has been the glue to the locker room for years. Avery Bradley said it was Rondo, not the seasoned veterans, who checked on him regularly during his rookie season to make sure he was eating right, had the transportation he needed or had someone to talk to when he was feeling lonely or overwhelmed.
Bradley was devastated when he sent to the NBA Developmental League in January 2011. "I felt like it was a punishment almost," he said.
It was Rondo who stopped by Bradley's apartment and stressed the move was a chance for him to play and improve, and Rondo who made arrangements to watch Bradley play in Maine before a last-minute change to a Celtics practice scuttled the plans.
"But it showed how much he cared about me," Bradley said. "How much he cares about everybody."
There's some more good stuff in there, I'd encourage people to take a look, if you haven't already seen it.Rondo organized offseason workouts in Los Angeles, oversaw the basketball drills, arranged for flag football games, even tried to coax the Celtics' owners into giving them the private plane to travel to the West Coast. League rules forbid that -- "we paid our own way for everything," Rondo said -- but the trip was his idea, hatched from a conversation he had with Pierce at a Barack Obama fundraiser.
"It was Rajon's show," Garnett said.
That, insisted Keyon Dooling, is nothing new. It has been, he scolded, that way for years.
"He is the most underappreciated leader in this league," Dooling declared. "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.
"Honestly, our veterans didn't do a very good job of supporting him in his [leadership] role."
The dynamics were thorny. Rondo came to the Celtics as an unpolished, yet immensely gifted rookie. Initially, he was the dutiful puppy who followed Allen around, even mimicking his pregame routine. He was Allen and Pierce and KG's annoying but lovable little brother. And then all of a sudden they were supposed to anoint him their leader?
Allen resisted, even publicly expressing his disappointment that Rondo didn't follow through with the kind of disciplined, dedicated routine that Ray felt was paramount to a player's success. The two drifted apart, and by the end of last season, the unpleasant undercurrent between them was unmistakable.
"Ray was great in many ways," Dooling said. "Rondo learned a lot from him -- how to prepare, how to take care of his body, how to be professional.
"But the way Ray led was different than how Rajon did it. Not wrong, just different.
"Ray didn't know how to communicate with Rondo the way some of us could, like myself, like KG, who fully embraced Rajon.
"I love Ray. I love his family. He's a true pro. But it's unfair how this all came out. Ray had such a good relationship with all the reporters and Rondo was so quiet. So who gets all the good press?
"Sometimes it felt like Ray spent more time talking to the media than he did to his teammates.''