|Posted on September 28, 2012 at 10:35 AM|
The different ways different people percieve reality can be so amazing, endlessly amazing. To many of us, Dooling simply stated the obvious when he said that Rondo was the second best player in the league. I would go so far as to say that the number one throne is really waiting for him to fully get his game together. Lebron has it on loan from Rondo.
I think that some players have a greatness that just doesn't fully inhabit the stat sheet. Bill Russell. Dave Cowens. Isiah Thomas. Kevin Garnett. Some players have so much influence over the game that what they don't do looms as large as what they do. I know that sounds funny, but think about it. What other player, now or ever, gets discussed so much for what they don't do as Rondo? That implies that a lot is expected from him.
We know the arguments, we've seen them so many times. Rondo can't shoot, so defenses play off him. Rondo is playing with HOFers, and they make him. Rondo is inconsistent. Recently we've also seen the argument that Rondo doesn't stay home enough on defense. All of these arguments have a point, of course, without a doubt. Rondo needs to shoot better, and he IS getting better, though his shooting hasn't 'turned the corner' yet, except from, well, the corner - from the elbow, where Rondo had the best percentage in the league. Rondo does need to focus more on lifting his defensive game. He does need to be more consistent. And so on. But come on, these improvements are about lifting his game from one of the best in the league to the best in the league. Every player has weaknesses in his game. Even Lebron, though Lebron, to his credit, gets better and better, and some of that has come from studying Rondo's game I think.
And isn't it interesting that we rarely see the flip side of these arguments? Playing with three HOFers has meant that Rondo has had to subordinate his game to theirs. Ainge finally pointed to this pretty much directly when he mentioned Rondo taking over in Sixers Game Seven last year, after Pierce went out, and indicated that Rondo needs to dominate consistently. It's hard for your own game to unfold when you have to defer to three other players. Doesn't it say something about Rondo that he has had the maturity and love for the game to not only be willing to do this, but to do this so successfully that some of the greatest players in the history of the game are in his cheering section? Doesn't it say something about his critics that ESPN rates Rondo as the fifth best point guard, when guys like Jason Kidd and Magic Johnson are calling him the best?
I think these guys understand that Rondo has had to subordinate his game, and appreciate that as something a truly great point guard is more than willing to do. Whoever Rondo plays with, he can make the most of, but are his critics so blind that they don't see him standing and waiting for Ray Allen to run through fourteen screens, and then they turn around and blame Rondo for the inefficient offense? Are they so blind that they don't see him literally BEGGING his teammates to run the floor with him? Have they ever before seen a point guard literally pleading with his teamates to run the floor? Rondo turned 90-year-old Shaq into a scoring machine. Was that also because Shaq is a HOFer?
When Rondo is at his best, there is nobody who controls the game at both ends like he does. And he's at his best more and more consistently. But people want Hero Ball. Look at this list of the top ten handles in the NBA since the year 2000...
I think it's very telling, because, apart from Rondo and Nash, every player on the list is known for their heroic moves, ankle-breaking crossover dribbles, etc.. Rondo has broken a few ankles, but it's not his thing. The signature Rondo move involves Rondo cutting through the defense like a hot knife through butter, leaving the entire opposing defense standing frozen and puzzled. It's like comparing Bobby Orr to other great hockey players. The signature Orr drive involved him skating through the defense and swooping in on the goalie entirely untouched. Similarly, the signature Rondo drive ends with him alone at the basket laying in a practice layup. Rondo does to his critics what he does to defenses. They don't know what just happened, but they are sure that it wasn't quite right...