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"IN RONDO WE TRUST"

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Rondology: Assist Leader

Posted by paul on April 22, 2013 at 7:30 AM

I've been writing Rondology less, partly because it seems a bit out of place to focus on Rondo as the team pursues it's gritty playoff drive.  I may not like this team, but I admire the gritty, teamwork and defense oriented genius they've shown at times in Rondo's absence.  Still, it was nice to see Doc praising Rondo the other day, and it was nice to see that Rondo has been attached to the coaching staff, at least somewhat.   



I think coaching can be a good experience for Rondo.  It has to be good for him to see the game from Doc's perspective, and it has to be a good chance for him to see that, in some ways, the most important part of leadership has nothing to do with Xs and Os, or with passes and drives, that the sine qua non of leadership is the ability to motivate the people around you.  Motivating others, in positive ways, at least,  can be a tough art for someone to learn who appears to be congenitally a loner, or socially awkward, but it seems clear that it's an art that Rondo needs to find his own particular way to master.  



With that in mind, another good thing about having Rondo coach is that it shows the guys who may be here next year that Rondo is part of the deal, part of the Celtics future.  I hope Danny and Doc see that, as much as Rondo is surely blamable for the way he failed to lead the team effectively this year, the players around him deserve some of the blame too.  They knew when they came here that Rondo was a ball dominant guard, yet they seemed all too comfortable with the notion that they'd perform better if only they had the ball more.  While it's clear that Rondo needs to stand around holding the ball a lot less, I think it should also be clear that he should continue to dominate the ball (though less), and the other players should improve their ability and willingness to move well without the ball.   If the current players can't or won't do this, I think other players should be sought, and I would say that this is at least as true of Danny's other big favorite, Green, as anyone else.  



It's bad enough for Pierce's teammates to stand around when he goes into his gyrations, but it's some kind of sin for Rondo's teammates to stand around watching when he is controlling the ball, ESPECIALLY when he makes a move to the basket.   We are only talking about one of the best passers in the history of the game.



Speaking of Rondo being a passer, another reason to write about Rondo just now is that he notched two rather amazing accomplishments from the sick bay this year.  Rondo played half the games that Lebron did, but he led the league in triple doubles (and he had plenty of near trip-dubs too). That's not half bad.  Rondo remains the best threat we've seen, possibly, to average the first triple double since the Big O!  



More importantly, Rondoi led the league in assists per game for his second straight year (and let's not forget that he came in second to Nash the year before that).   That is one of the prestige statistical accomplishments in the NBA, yet there has been near total silence about it in the Celtics media and blogs.  I think that's a pretty good measure of how profound, widespread, perverse and unreasoning the hatred for Rondo has become.  I find it almost incredible, something like crazy, that almost no one in Celtics Land thought it was appropriate to pay some tribute to this impressive individual achievement, but they haven't stopped there.  Folks have even managed to brand this achievement by Rondo as a mark of shame, as proof of his selfishness!



It should be enough to point out that, for Rondo to truly be accepted as the best point guard, he has to lead an offense that is strong.  There is an inescapable basic logic to that.  A great point guard should lead a great offense, or at least a good one!  If he isn't, something is not adding up.  Fine.  That's a totally legitimate point.  I think it's also legitimate to point out that Rondo holds onto the ball too long without probing or breaking down the defense.  One of the major differences between basketball and football is that, in basketball, the offense does NOT have to allow the defense to set.  Basketball has this thing called transition offense, and it's important even if it doesn't result in transition baskets, because it's easier to keep the defense off balance if one never lets them get set in the first place.  



It's even legitimate to point out that Rondo seems at times so obsessed with assists that he become selfish about it.  Fine.  Like everyone else, he goes overboard sometimes.  But Bob Ryan, and much of the Celtics fandom, have demonized Rondo, and his supposedly selfish assists,  to the point of utter craziness.  Almost every great point guard has been a bit of a prima donna.  Would it make sense to fire the lead soprano inan opera because she got carried away a bit during her aria?   



I actually saw something like this once.  When I was a kid, my school glee club sang at some kind of choral convention.  There was an adult gospel choir that had the featured spot, and they ended their set with the song Oh Happy Day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNQXQKflJNA

I'll never forget what happened at the end of the song.  The lead singer of the gospel group went absolutely nuts, charging into the audience, singing the chorus over and over and leading the audience in a sing-along.  Man, I was from an uptight white cultural background, and this was my first exposure to black gospel culture.  I couldn't freaking believe how fantastic it was.  I almost cried.  I can still see that guy now, and I can still hear him singing, and I can still feel the energy of the crowd.   I couldn't understand it, but I knew it was great.  I knew that this was the energy and joy of life.  I knew that this was at least part of what art was about.



I heard that the leader of that guys' choral group gave him an epic tongue-lashing afterwards.  Apparently he had stepped out of line.  I say Thank God.  Praise the Lord.



That's what I think when I watch Rondo sometimes.  Praise the freaking Lord.   What is wrong, I can't help but wonder,  with these folks who can't see the joy and the beauty there, who don't see the essence of basketball in a lot of what he does.  Are they like the choral leader yelling at that singer who got the whole audience singing along?



I'm not saying that Rondo should be above criticism, of course.  He takes on a lot of responsiblity and right now, he deserves a LOT  of criticism.  But he also deserves for it to be constructive criticism.  


Congratulations Rondo!  Winning two straight assist titles is a marvelous achievement, and a landmark in Celtics history!!

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8 Comments

Reply gspr
10:24 AM on April 22, 2013 
Rondo does not deserve criticism for this team underachieving. Did he deserve criticism last year when the team underachieved through the All Star break? No, this is just the way the team has been playing for some time. They believe they can "turn it on" at will. Luckily last year's team managed to turn it on in time, but this year's team is different. Rondo certainly can't make his teammates play harder. He can only do his best to get the best out of them. Please don't buy into what the haters are saying. Rondo had the misfortune of playing the first half of the season when this team was extremely uninspired and uninspiring. I hope Danny does some kind of a shake up this off-season. Obviously I want Rondo, Pierce and KG to stay, but I feel like the chemistry in this team is just not right. And they need to get a decent center in the worst way! If Danny finds players who complement Rondo, he will do wonders next season.
Reply Franklin
1:43 PM on April 22, 2013 
Welcome back Paul! I. Have been waiting for another post. It was worth the wait.
Reply Morena
3:38 PM on April 22, 2013 
Thanks a lot for this piece, Paul.
The experience you described about that gospel chorus is absolutely wonderful. I can almost feel the emotion of the moment. And I like the comparison between that moment and Rondo's year.
I think you're right. Rondo deserve criticism, for sure. But those guys, are like the choral leader yelling at that singer, just because he couldn't feel the magic of that guy action.
Reply paul
4:00 PM on April 22, 2013 
Franklin says...
Welcome back Paul! I. Have been waiting for another post. It was worth the wait.

Thankyou Franklin - I've been trying to hold off, but I couldn't resist!
Reply paul
4:40 PM on April 22, 2013 
gspr says...
Rondo does not deserve criticism for this team underachieving. Did he deserve criticism last year when the team underachieved through the All Star break? No, this is just the way the team has been playing for some time. They believe they can "turn it on" at will. Luckily last year's team managed to turn it on in time, but this year's team is different. Rondo certainly can't make his teammates play harder. He can only do his best to get the best out of them. Please don't buy into what the haters are saying. Rondo had the misfortune of playing the first half of the season when this team was extremely uninspired and uninspiring. I hope Danny does some kind of a shake up this off-season. Obviously I want Rondo, Pierce and KG to stay, but I feel like the chemistry in this team is just not right. And they need to get a decent center in the worst way! If Danny finds players who complement Rondo, he will do wonders next season.


Well, you make some strong points. I half agree with you. But I half don't agree with you. Let's not put Rondo on a pedestal where he cannot be criticized. Criticism goes with leadership too. You have to take responsibility when things don't go well, at least to some extent.
Reply paul
4:43 PM on April 22, 2013 
Morena says...
Thanks a lot for this piece, Paul.
The experience you described about that gospel chorus is absolutely wonderful. I can almost feel the emotion of the moment. And I like the comparison between that moment and Rondo's year.
I think you're right. Rondo deserve criticism, for sure. But those guys, are like the choral leader yelling at that singer, just because he couldn't feel the magic of that guy action.


Thanks, Morena. And isn't it also a little like a choral group yelling at the lead singer for singing too much? There's a balance to be found and both sides have some responsibility to find it.
Reply Greg
11:49 PM on April 22, 2013 
The return of Rondology! I love your personal reflections in your writing.
Reply paul
11:57 PM on April 22, 2013 
Greg says...
The return of Rondology! I love your personal reflections in your writing.


Thankyou Greg!