The good and bad of Rajon Rondo have both been on display this year. On the one hand, he’s been making spectacular plays that only he could see with his extraordinary court vision. On the other, he’s just thrashed it with his lack of vision for anything that happens off the court.
His all around numbers are spectacular: 12.6 points, 11.0 assists and 6.7 rebounds. He’s compiled four triple-doubles this year according to Basketball-Reference.com. His 265 dimes on the year lead the NBA. He’s even been fairly efficient, shooting 47.2 percent from two and 37.5 percent from deep, albeit with fewer than one trey per game.
And, when the Kings were having problems he stepped into a respectable leadership role, and sat down with George Karl and had a “powerful meeting” in which he invited Karl to provide coaching
Rondo said he had been hoping in recent weeks to get a meeting with just himself, Karl and Cousins, adding that the discussion felt “natural” and Karl was receptive, positive and open-minded. Rondo and Cousins were also able to get some lingering frustrations off their chest, and Karl offered back his thoughts. According to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“We asked him to just sit with us so we can pick his brain and share our thoughts,” Rondo told Yahoo Sports. “What I love about [Karl] is he’s very open. George is not a dictator. ‘What can we do positively? What can we do to improve?’
“If you can come into a meeting with no egos and everyone was humble, it just works out for the better.”
Everything was going so smoothly with Rondo. Then, incredibly two days later he had his slur-filled tirade against Bill Kennedy, which got him suspended.
After an initial “apology” which A: Was remarkably similar to Kobe Bryant’s and B. Didn’t actually apologize, he tried another apology.
“Yesterday, I said my words toward Bill Kennedy were unacceptable and did not reflect my feelings toward the LGBT community,” Rondo said. “Some have interpreted my comments as a non-apology. I want to be clear, from the bottom of my heart that I am truly sorry for what I said to Bill. There is no place on or off the court for language that disrespects anyone’s sexual orientation. That is not who I am or what I believe and I will strive every day to be a better person.”
And while this apology, at least, included the word, “sorry” in it, it still lacks sincerity, even if it is trying to emulate sincerity. Rondo spent at least as much time opining on how others “interpreted” his first non-apology and bemoaned the necessity for the second. Then, in issuing the second, he identified himself out of the scenario with a “That is not who I am.”
Sort of like, “Watch what I say, not what I do.” Rondo’s actions on the court proved that is exactly who he is, and rather than reflect on the situation and consider how his words impacted Kennedy’s life, he just throws stones at the media and denies it is who he is.
But he’s sorry.
Bill Kennedy had Rondo’s words resonating in him for 11 days, then finally decided he was going to make a life-altering decision based on Rondo’s spiteful outburst. Has Rondo even considered for a moment what Kennedy had to go through? Everything about the way Rondo’s handled the situation is that it’s all about Rondo.
Just because he shouted homophobic slurs at a gay man, doesn’t mean he’s bigoted against gays. Just because he didn’t use the word sorry doesn’t mean he’s not sorry. Just because he’s only offered scripted apologies doesn’t mean he’s not sorry.
And this is not just about perception or blame. With all of this, there echoes this other side of Rondo—the one who got kicked off the Dallas Mavericks last year while they were in the playoffs. The one who got traded away from the Boston Celtics because, allegedly, he was bumping heads with everyone who had any authority.
Any positive momentum he’d gained has been lost. Any traction for next summer is gone. Becuase what he’s established is that no matter how well he plays, he will always be Rondo. And ultimately, that will undermine whatever contributions he makes on the court.