|Posted by shawn cassidy on September 24, 2013 at 5:15 AM|
Misunderstood and vilified has become the definition of Rondo in the eyes of many. Have you guys checked out the Jordan article? The one detailing Jordan, and Kerr getting into a fight? This story has been around for a long time, but it's been brought up again at ESPN. Rondo is complicated for people to get. He's a normal guy to me, just trying to be the greatest at what he does, nothing new there. Is he overrated? Some view him as overrated, and that won't change anytime soon. Rondo has been given the role of villain. It's something that he doesn't take into stride, and it's far from the truth. It doesn't matter for the Bob Ryan's of the world that current and former teammates love Rondo. Should some bad encounters with Ray Allen suggest that Rondo is an evil guy, who beats down on teammates. Think about it. Ray Allen is ten years older than Rondo. It's like a little brother and big brother arguing. Rondo made Ray Allen amazing in Boston.
I'm no Kobe fan, and he's regard in the same light at times. Some players are born with a competitive fire that some just don't have. Jordan has always been praised, for almost anything, and I get it. I'm a fan of Jordan's legacy. During Doc's final days in Boston, a story broke out that we've all seen. That story had Doc Rivers going at Rondo. Since then Rondo's new label has become coach killer. To be perfectly honest with all of you. I'm tired of sticking up for Rondo. Because we shouldn't have to, or I shouldn't have to. He's doing nothing wrong, but I can't help but to stick up for the mistreated. Do I believe Rondo is the greatest player in the NBA? No.. Do I think he's the best point guard in the NBA? Yes, and no.. My point is this. I'm not blind to who Rondo is. I'm not saying he's the greatest of all-time.
But I recognize, the unfair treatment, and I recognize his accomplishments. I also recognize his potential, and his great series win over James in 2010 against the Cavs, and some other great wins over great players. Some will never change their mind about Rajon. But I will continue to stick up for him as long as he deserves it.
This situation is off topic from the article, but it goes back to the Jordan and James comparison. I'm not saying James should get into fights with teammates. But this goes back to James taking the easy way out. Instead of holding teammates accountable in Cleveland, by being the bad guy. He was so focused on taking fake pictures before every game. He saw an easy way out with Wade and Bosh. As much as I hate Wade, he has the killer instinct to win.
Landing a punch on Michael Jordan
“I don’t know what the hell I was thinking,” TNT analyst Steve Kerr says, laughing as he recalls his scrap with the Chicago Bulls legend in the fall of 1995 at Bulls training camp. “It’s Michael Jordan, it’s the greatest player ever, but I was pretty competitive and I kind of played with a chip on my shoulder. I had to or I wouldn’t have made it.”
The two guards were matched up in a scrimmage. It was intense. Jordan had heard the critics after the Bulls’ playoff loss to the Orlando Magic and intended to silence them. He averaged 26.9 points in the final 17 regular-season games after coming out of retirement, but shot only 41 percent from the field. The postseason defeat to the Magic in the conference semifinals, his first series loss since 1990, had some suggesting his best years were behind him. At 32 years old, Jordan was hell-bent on proving otherwise. It was palpable in every drill, every time down the floor.
He and Kerr talked trash on a couple of possessions, and then it escalated.
“I took exception to something he said,” Kerr says. “So I was talking back and I don’t think Michael appreciated that ... and we got in the lane and he gave me a forearm shiver to the chest and I pushed him back. And next thing you know, our teammates were pulling him off of me.”
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound Kerr wound up with a black eye. He threw some punches before it was broken up, too.
“I knew that if we were in an actual fight he could actually probably kill me if he wanted to,” Kerr says. “It was more just I’m going to stand up for myself.”
Kerr and Jordan didn’t have much of a relationship at that point. They’d played together for only two months. Before Jordan left the arena that day, then-Bulls coach Phil Jackson -- who perhaps would have prevented the tiff if he wasn’t in his office doing a media conference call, Kerr suggests -- told the superstar he had to speak with Kerr that night.
Jordan made the call within the hour and apologized. They talked some more at practice the next day and moved on.
As odd as it sounds when you consider that Kerr is the son of intellectuals, someone who was taught that violence is not the preferred method of conflict resolution, he believes that getting into it with his co-worker -- getting into it with Michael Jordan -- was the correct thing to do. He says he was embarrassed by how he was being treated and he wasn’t going to put up with it.
“You can’t run away from a fight,” says Bill Wennington, then Chicago’s backup center and now its radio color commentator. “You gotta protect yourself and defend yourself and Steve did just that.”
“It was a totally different relationship from that point on,” Kerr says.
There was mutual respect, with Kerr feeling that Jordan trusted him on the court more in important situations. In Jackson’s new book, "Eleven Rings," he says the punch was a wake-up call for Jordan and a turning point for the championship-winning 1995-96 Bulls who won 72 regular-season games, a record that will likely never be broken. Who knows what the wake-up call would have been if the fight never took place? Who knows if there even would have been one?
“It made me look at myself, and say, ‘You know what? You’re really being an idiot about this whole process,’” Jordan says in "Eleven Rings." He realized he hadn’t gotten in sync with his new teammates after coming back from his baseball sabbatical.
“He became, I think, more compassionate to everybody, and definitely to me,” says Kerr. “He had a different approach than most people and he was such a maniac, the way he would kind of attack the game and the season, that he had to understand that everyone was different and not everyone was as talented as him and not everyone was made up the same way as him.”
That was a two-way street. To be a teammate of Jordan, you’d have to accept that he’d push you sometimes. It just usually wasn’t that literal.
During one practice, Wennington blocked Jordan’s shot. After that, Jordan made a point of shooting over him, daring him to try again.
“It became almost his spark of the day,” Wennington says. “He must have come by me five or six more times in scrimmages. I’m guarding Luc [Longley] and I’m isolated in the corner, he drives through the whole lane, comes out to me, and [says], ‘Block this!’”
If you understood those challenges were all about wanting to win, you could enjoy playing with Jordan. Both Kerr and Wennington say they did. Still, relating and connecting to the most famous people on the planet isn’t simple. It was difficult to have normal interactions with Jordan away from the court because of the crowds he’d attract.
“We understood he lived a different life than the rest of us,” says Kerr. “So everyone respected his privacy away from the court and respected the fact that he needed a couple bodyguards on the road with him and that he was going to stay in his suite and play cards and stuff rather than go out. I mean, that’s probably what everybody else would have done, too, given the life that he led.”
There can be tension when one member of a team dwarfs the rest in attention and popularity. Jackson’s job was to diffuse that, to foster a sense of community. That season he also had to integrate Dennis Rodman and his colorful personality, ask Ron Harper to accept a role as a facilitator/stopper, and convince Toni Kukoc to be the sixth man. While this group’s transcendence might seem inevitable now, it was never guaranteed. A different coach might not have been able to manage them, to keep them in tune with each other.
“On a basketball team, you can have this phenomenon where even though you’re together every day, you’re not really communicating,” Kerr says. “And Phil never allowed that to happen.”