Re: The Truth about Rondo
posted at 10/3/2010 11:52 AM EDT
From Mark Murphy at the BH.... Note the quotes in bold letters.
NEWPORT, R.I. - Rajon Rondo’s self-image is exalted, in a matter-of-fact kind of way.
“I feel I’m the best at what I do, and that’s how I play it,” the point guard said following yesterday’s practice at Salve Regina. “People know who I am, but that’s not why I play. I play to be the best.
“I’m the best, hands down. There’s no speculation. Not top three or top five, I’m the best.”
Shaquille O’Neal, for one, won’t dispute those supremely cocky words. The former Cavalier’s memory of Rondo in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals is still so vividly painful, Shaq needs a waiver from the FCC just to talk about it.
Back on the night of Game 1, he also needed a license from the WWE for his hard takedown of the Celtics point guard.
“Being the big man and being the enforcer, he was killing us, so I had to touch him up, you know?” Shaq said. “But I knew he was a tough kid because he kept coming at me. He kept coming at me. A lot of times when you touch people up, they have a choice to make. You know, ‘I don’t want to get fouled by Shaq again,’ and you make them go somewhere else. That (bleep) kept coming.”
And O’Neal, still haunted despite the fact Cleveland actually won the game and countered Rondo’s 27-point, 12-rebound, six-assist performance, kept reliving the moment.
“We didn’t plan for him at all,” he said. “And then when he (bleep) tore us a new (bleep), we had to plan for him. That’s what I really like about this team - that you can tell that they’re unselfish, because, you know, most teams have one or two guys that you’ve always got to get up for.
“So we’re concentrating on Paul (Pierce) and Kevin (Garnett), and this (bleep) gave us a triple-double. Now we’ve got to concentrate on him. But him being a smart player, he just did the same thing. But when we reacted, he just gave up the ball. Then (bleep) Ray (Allen) got off. Now we’ve got to (bleep) concentrate on Ray, and Ray dropping that (bleep) to Kevin. And then the game they beat us, everybody got off. So that’s when I said I wouldn’t mind playing for a team like that, because they don’t give a (bleep) who scores or who takes all the shots.”
And one of the best parts, according to O’Neal? He now gets to play with the little bleep.
“He’s the new definition of a point guard,” he said. “Of course he’s going to get everybody off, but if you disrespect him, he’s going to put up MVP-type numbers.”
Magic Johnson, in much cleaner fashion, said something similar about Rondo last May. The Hall of Famer called him “the best all-around point guard” in the NBA.
Reminded of Johnson’s words, Rondo finally slowed down for a moment.
“That’s a great acknowledgement from, if not the best point guard there ever was, then one of them,” he said. “But I was (determined) to put in the work to get there. Derrick Rose was working this summer for it, and Russell Westbrook was working this summer.
“It’s not to be the best for one year, or for people to say it for one year - it’s to do it every night and to do it for the next five.”
That means that Rondo can’t spend too much time listening when a player like Johnson or O’Neal starts mailing bouquets.
He can’t be swooned when some Hall of Famer affectionately calls him a little bleep.
“It is easy to let something like that get to you, but on this team it’s not,” Rondo said. “There’s All-Stars on this team, four future Hall of Famers, so I haven’t done anything yet.
“I just play the game. If I was the only guy on the Celtics who was an All-Star then maybe I would relax a little bit, but I’m not. That’s just who I am, how I’m wired.”