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Love, and Hate, and a Celtics Season On the Brink

Posted by paul on January 31, 2013 at 8:55 PM

Things are confusing right now.  

On one hand, it didn't take long for the snakes to come wriggling and slithering out of the Celtics pit, did it?  First Rondo's supposed best buddy, Bradley, rips Rondo on twitter and then says he didn't.  Then Lee reportedly comes out griping about Rondo, after Rondo's departure.  Then it's Terry's turn.  Now it's Bass.  Of course,  Lee, Terry and Bass weren't quite as blunt in their comments as Bradley was, and even Bradley didn't mention Rondo's name, but you know, they've all been pretty blunt.  They surely ain't cryin' much over Rondo being gone.

So where were these guys when Rondo was still here (Bradley aside)?  I find it a bit  disturbing to discover  - albeit, for just two games so far -  that suddenly, post-Rondo,  we have the team we all envisioned last summer (only we envisioned having this team PLUS Rondo).  Do folks really not find it a little bit suspicious that suddenly this Celtics  team is looking absolutely great, without there being some deeper story to it than rallying the troops?  Come on, it's ludicrous!!  To believe that one has to believe that Rondo is some horrible ogre, and the poor littel lambs are now scrambling across the bridge to basketball's greener pastures, with the ogre finally gone.

I'm not saying that some of Rondo's teammates  pretty much intentionally screwed him over.  Let's just say that their apparent lack of motivation when Rondo was still here, as highlighted by their seemingly amazing surge in motivation upon his departure,  may have been right next door to that, or somewhat down the street, perhaps.

And I add this further question:  does anyone really think that these spare-parts type players would really have pulled the bad play/good play stunt they seem to have pulled, while bad-talking Rondo, without the backing of a heavy hitter on the team?   I don't think so.  None of those guys have any gravitas, except for Bradley, and he doesn't have much.  So who would be the heavy hitter who has never really been comfortable with Rondo's leadership of the team?   Who would be the heavy hitter whose play has at times this season been truly heinous, yet who seems to have pulled off a miraculous turnaround along with Lee, Bass and Terry?   

I'm not thinking about KG, that's for sure.  KG has been steady this year, the Celtics' steadiest player, and he clearly loves Rondo, even though he gets frustrated over Rondo a lot.

So no, I'm sorry, I'm just no buying the Seabiscuit miraculous turnaround story this team is trying to jam down our throats.  There has been a snake pit at the heart of this team, and it surely wasn't all Rondo's doing.   I guess we'll see how Team Snake Pit does the rest of the season.  They may do great.  They could win number 18 even, I suppose.  They'd better not fall off again, though, because I suspect that if they do, a housecleaning won't be far away, and Pierce won't be sacrosanct...

But we can't just make excuses for Rondo either.  Rondo had an incredible opportunity this season, and he booted it.  Repeatedly.  This was his team to lead, but even his fans  have been appalled, at times,  at his passivity on offense and his seemingly lackadaisical defense.  Of course Haters will say "AHA, you agree with us!"   Well yeah, because we aren't blinded with love the way Haters are blinded with hate!  We can see Rondo's faults.  

What seemed to make it worse was Rondo's stubbornness.  Fans, media, enemies, even legends of the game, like Bill Walton, practically begged him to come out of his trance, or whatever it was, and seize the opportunity he had been given.   He just didn't.  And yet you can't say he didn't try.   At times he played brilliantly, and in some ways he had his best and most consistent season.  He just couldn't seem to focus.  He'd get torched particularly badly by someone and maybe he'd get tough on D for a game or two, but then it would be back to matador normal.  How could Rondo not see that playing a strong all-around game would work best?  That the team needed his leadership on defense as much as on offense?   

And let's not assume that Rondo's injury had nothing to do with this whole mess.  The worse things got, the more pressure Rondo surely felt to perform heroics.  That had to create an atmosphere that made injury more likely.

I'm glad to see that the Celtics are playing better.  But I'm not loving the post-Rondo Celtics.

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Reply C'slife
1:34 AM on February 1, 2013 
The guys honestly don't mind Rondo's gone because they get more time, and the ball. Will this last? The play that the Celtics have adopted without Rondo? Who knows.. The odds are against them still.
Reply paul
1:54 AM on February 1, 2013 
I hope it does last. I like the way they are playing, and I want to see them do well. But I can't honestly say that I love this team. In a way, I'm equally concerned about how Rondo handles all this. In a way, he seems imperturbable, but I think he's actually very sensitive. Still, it's no more than the kind of life challenge we all face as we go through life. We all find ourselves in situations where things turn out rather differently than we hoped for, and a lot of it is our fault, and we have to try to figure out what we might do better on the fly as we try to get 'back in the game'...
Reply rcraig617
2:52 AM on February 1, 2013 
I can't recall reading anything where terry said anything bad about rondo all i've read is where he's said his role stays the same. Courtney lee also never was quoted on saying anything there was just a report that he was unhappy with rondo from a reporter. The only thing that was a shot at rondo was bradley tweeting nobody would drop 40 on him and he was responding to somebody saying kyrie dropped 40 on him. I just believe the team is looking better without rondo because the ball isn't sticking which happens sometimes with rondo and the perimeter defense has been ramped up which rondo for some reason didn't want to be a part of. Rondo's my favorite player I just thing you're reaching by thinking lee,bass,terry and bradley have something against rondo. I love rondo and he's my favorite player but his inability to want to play defense aggressively is in my opinion the main difference now from a week ago and guys are hitting shots like terry that they were missing like terry along with pierce being in a slump. I don't really buy into the whole mess about us being better without rondo though.
Reply paul
4:41 AM on February 1, 2013 
I think it's pretty unreal to attribute the transformation of this team virtually overnight to Rondo being gone, though I think your criticisms of Rondo are on the money. And yeah, I think the things that Terry and Bass have said, and what Lee was reported as saying, have been veiled or thinly veiled shots at Rondo. As for Lee, he says he didn't say, but that's to be expected. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. I don't take for granted his denial. What Bradley said was what it was, despite the argument that he was goaded into it. That only makes it less egregious. Doesn't change what it was.

Am I reaching? Sure. Maybe. Likely. But I think you have to believe in pixie dust to suspect that there wasn't a deeper and nastier story behind the magic transformation story being played out...

Regardless, by playing better D and being more aggressive on offense (and that doesn't necessarily mean scoring more or dominating the ball), Rondo could have written a very different story. I'm not trying to excuse Rondo. But I'm nauseated too by the apparent overnight transformation of many of the players on this team.

If they don't win a lot of games now, and make a noise in the playoffs, they'll find that this situation will bite them in the butt in turn...

I did add the word "reportedly" to what Lee said. I had meant to do that anyway, and it's needed.
Reply paul
5:07 AM on February 1, 2013 
Put differently, does anyone really think that the only feuds in basketball are the ones we hear about? Through the lapdog media? I highly doubt that, and I think there is plenty of indication that there has been some serious ugliness behind the scenes in Celtics Land.
Reply jlil89
12:52 PM on February 1, 2013 
Well it is absolutely true that things happen behind the scenes that no one knows about. While I understand your confusion/frustration about this team seemingly flipping a switch now that Rondo is gone, it's just one of those things the we may never know. At least Ainge has given Rondo a major vote of confidence, it's always nice to have your GM say that. The best we can hope for is that Rondo takes this recovery as opportunity to re access what made him who he is. It starts with defense, of course, and then attack, attack, and ATTACK some more on offense. Do this and the team follows suit.
Reply Cisco
3:40 PM on February 1, 2013 
Bradley, Terry, Lee and Bass - they all were involved, one way or another, in specific lines suggesting that they have/had a problem playing with Rondo.

Terry and Lee are newcomers, I don't really have a serious problem with them.

Bass, on the other hand, is ridiculous. He didn't even hide it anymore. He basically hits the teammate who made him look good last season. Bass is in Boston with a good contract because of Rondo. For this only, he should shut up and act like a professional instead of crying about his minutes.

As for Avery Bradley... now I have an issue with this guy. Agree, he is a very good perimeter defender, he is quick and he played very good basketball, for most of the half of a shortened season. That's about it when it comes to Avery Bradley accomplishments as a Celtic. So, this guy has the nerve to tweet that nobody would score 40 on him... That's really something. First, Bradley already believes he is already some Hall of Famer able to stop any NBA player. Arrogant. Second, Bradley basically calls out Rondo! Even assuming that Rondo had a bad night on defense and didn't stop Kyrie Irving from scoring 40, you don't just tweet that... Professionals, regardless the organization, don't do that about their colleagues. That's a fact. Plain and simple. You don't build a career tweeting like that when you actually didn't really proved much in NBA, other than a good series of games, defensively.

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