|Posted by paul on February 5, 2012 at 8:45 AM|
One could see it in the games last year. Shaq wrote about it this summer. Stories about it surfaced during the Rajon-Rondo-Chris-Paul trade fiasco. It was evident early in this season. Friday night's game between the Celtics and the Knicks made it finally too obvious for anyone to miss: all is not well between Rondo and his teammates.
When Rondo was on the floor Friday night, even though he was playing a far better all-around game, even in his rusty and hampered state, than Avery Bradley, the team didn't respond to his leadership, and it DID respond, enthusiastically, when Bradley was on the floor. Barely two weeks ago, Doc claimed that the Celtics are now Rondo's team. Now it's clear that that is nowhere near true, and i wonder if it was ever true. Rondo may be a great point guard. I certainly think he is. I think he's one of the best players in the league. But he does not seem to be this team's point guard.
For most of the game on Friday, when Rondo was on the floor, the Celtics seem to be running in water. As soon as Bradley stepped out on the floor, it was like someone opened up the taps. The guys had a spring in their steps, they started looking for each other and passing well, and the complexion of the game changed dramatically. The difference was so dramatic that it was actually rather shocking. No one can have failed to see it. And what's really disturbing is that it came off as more of a culmination of a growing trend than a one-game Rusty Rondo anomaly.
Fans and commentators are generally more than content to blame Rondo for this. Like anybody else, the kid has his share of faults, and maybe he has more than his share. He certainly does if one believes his legions of critics. Criticizing Rondo and calling for him to be traded 'while he still has market value' has become perhaps the single main fandom subtheme. I think that's blazingly unfair, but there are times when life is simply unfair. It really doesn't matter why Rondo seems to be somehow on the outside looking in on his own team, or who is at fault; what matters is that these Celtics are not a deeply reflective team, and do not seem likely to do anything to heal any fault lines that seem to have developed between most of the guys and Rondo. Ubuntu is long gone where Rondo is concerned. This is a problem that he has to solve by himself, if it is to be solved.
I think the only solution is for Rondo to play with every ounce of energy he has on both ends of the court. If this means that he exhausts himself quickly, then he has to call to Doc for breathers. The important thing is that he must play as hard as he can, with no pacing, pretty much shaming his teammates into putting out when he is on the court. I hope Rondo takes this course today. Attack, attack, attack on both ends. LET YOUR OWN TEAM CATCH UP WITH YOU, IF THEY CAN.
Don't rely on those guys to have your back, Rondo. They won't have your back now when it comes to playing well for you anymore than they had your back when Kleiza clobbered you and they all seemingly sent him candy and flowers. Play all out and shame your teammates into playing with you; at least go down knowing you did everything you could possibly do to fix this situation.