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Growing To Appreciate Rajon Rondo

Hector Amezcua/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Rajon Rondo is apparently not a likable fellow. He has a long history of teammates tiring of his antics, coaches feeling burdened with the weight of his shenanigans in his wake, and — most importantly — it has been years since anyone has felt like he has been a top-tier NBA point guard. All of which has helped shape the idea of people’s disdain for him as a person and player.

His above history is simply that. It is in the past. Where history tends to stay. The great thing about history is that guys can choose to ignore then repeat it or learn from it and move on. Rajon Rondo, while not exactly learning from it, isn’t nearly the debacle of a human being as social media likes to make him out to be.

There have been reports of Rondo and — social media fodder bedfellow — DeMarcus Cousins holding a meeting with Sacramento coach George Karl. Supposedly the two players attempted to talk to the coach, hash some things out, and discuss other things that make for a fine Hallmark Christmas movie, all in an attempt to move the Kings toward the right direction.

Per Hollywood rules: Spiderman will play Rondo, naturally.

Per Hollywood rules: Spiderman will play Rondo, naturally.

The level of truth to the report withstanding, because it honestly doesn’t matter, since then Rondo and the Kings haven’t been as much a train wreck as they were to start this season. Now, Sacramento hasn’t exactly been good, but their 3-6 record over the last nine games doesn’t highlight how much better Rajon Rondo has become. And that’s the point here.

Whether it is Rondo or the plethora of other aging once-stars in the NBA, we often don’t appreciate players until they are gone. Or, even worse, don’t even bother to acknowledge their greatness until they’re shooting 3-20 from the field (Hey, Kobe). It is an issue NBA fans and media have long had, as we tend to prefer dissecting all aspects of players’ games to the point of diminishing accomplishments, only to acknowledge the incredible journey of it all after most people care to think about it anymore. You know, after their usefulness is gone, they retire, and the player goes the way of so many professional athletes before them… to barely being remembered.

He was a 1,000 yard rusher. Remember him? No? Point proven. If you do, then you're a die-hard.

He was a 1,000-yard rusher. Remember him? No? Point proven. If you do, then you’re a die-hard.

Rondo’s career-arc is actually rather amazing. Not a highly thought of draft prospect, he was eventually lucky enough to be the Big Three’s burden with the Boston Celtics to carry. Seriously, looking back at it now, there were rumors, talk, speculation, and suggestions tossed around that if the Celtics wanted to win an NBA title with the short window they had, Boston would have to rid themselves of the horrible Kentucky Wildcats basketball player.

Obviously, things turned out different. In fact, while Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett made it easy for the Big Three nickname to be a thing, by the time the core group’s run was over Rondo was making it to a Core Four. No one likes Rondo, so instead of doing that, however, people continued to push narratives about his inability to score the bucket while ignoring every single other thing he did better than anyone else.

Before a tumultuous end with the Celtics, coupled with injuries and a horrific stint with Dallas, derailed such notions, there was a time when Rajon Rondo was unlike anything we have seen from the point guard position before. Certainly, he couldn’t shoot a jumper even if it meant bringing peace to the world, but when motivated, Rondo was a good defender, an athletic freak in the most positive of ways, and a dude who can alter games without having many tangible basket-making abilities.

Point guards altering games while the other team KNOWS he has severe offensive limitations is unheard of. The only thing that comes to mind is the end of Mark Jackson’s career when he began to dribble the ball up the court with his back to the basket from 50-feet away. Except even Marky-Mark could hit a jumper.

Rondo’s numbers, specifically assists, have always been a bit misleading. Even with that said, he is averaging a double-double per game this season. Granted, 12 points and 11 assists per don’t scream excellence, yet if it were any other player in the league, even if the team he played on were mostly garbage, there would be more praise sent toward that player’s general direction. Again, because few seem to like Rondo, we are hesitant to give him any credit.

With Rajon Rondo playing even better over the last 10 games — averaging 12, 12, and 5 — maybe we should start to appreciate his game before it is gone (again). We don’t know how long it is going to last, or how much his body will withstand before Mother Nature takes his abilities away, or if his temperament can withstand playing for such a ho-hum team before he reverts to being everything that many hate about him.

For now, though, I appreciate his game. It wasn’t always like this. But I have learned to do so and am willing to take his good with the bad. Hell, Rondo’s bad is what helped make him so interesting anyway.

 

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