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Rondo has learned well

Celtic guard outplays mentor Bibby during Game 1 victory

Mike Bibby tries to check Rajon Rondo in Game 1, but it was easier said than done as Rondo had 15 points and nine assists. Mike Bibby tries to check Rajon Rondo in Game 1, but it was easier said than done as Rondo had 15 points and nine assists. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Marc J. Spears
Globe Staff / April 22, 2008

Seven years ago, NBA veteran Mike Bibby began mentoring and working out a gangly kid from Kentucky he thought had the potential to play in the league. The Hawks point guard definitely has an eye for talent, as that kid, Rajon Rondo, not only made the NBA, he made his playoff debut against Bibby and Atlanta Sunday night for the Celtics.

"You never know what the league is looking for and what the league wants," Bibby said. "But looking at him, I figured he could make it. It's not up to me, but I knew he could be here."

Doug Bibby, Mike Bibby's first cousin, coached Rondo at Louisville Eastern High School his freshman through junior seasons. During Labor Day weekend before Rondo's junior and senior years, Doug Bibby brought Rondo to Sacramento to work out with Mike Bibby, who then starred for the Kings.

"I'm real close to my cousin, and I just talked to him and told him that I was coming out there with this young cat that was special," Doug Bibby said.

Rondo already was being mentored by NBA shooting guard Derek Anderson, a Louisville native now with the Bobcats. But in Mike Bibby, Rondo learned from a fellow point guard. The two backcourt players with the quiet demeanors spent time together on and off the court. Rondo also worked out with then-Kings guards Bobby Jackson and Mateen Cleaves in Sacramento thanks to Mike Bibby.

"I just tried to help him," Mike Bibby said. "I played one-on-one with him and stuff. I told him that a jump shot in this league was very, very important. I had him working on his shot. I had him working on everything when he came down with my cousin.

"I liked him. He was long, strong, quick. He had it. I was just telling him that you've got to work on your game, that's it."

Rondo said what impressed him most about Mike Bibby during those workouts was his sweet jumper and strong work ethic.

"Mike told me, 'Work hard. Hard work pays off. Stay in the gym even if it's too late or you're tired. Keep pushing yourself. Continue to work hard,' " Rondo said.

The pupil got the better of the teacher in the Celtics' 104-81 rout of Atlanta in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. Rondo had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, with nine assists, six rebounds, two steals, and no turnovers in 28 minutes. Bibby missed 8 of 10 shots, including 4 of 5 3-point attempts, and had one assist in 34 minutes.

"I wanted to approach it like another game that was very important," Rondo said. "It was either win or go home. So I just wanted to go out there and not turn the ball over and just be solid on defense."

With the way Rondo is playing and the experienced backups he has in Sam Cassell and Eddie House, Mike Bibby believes his former pupil is definitely on the right track.

"He's going to be all right," Bibby said. "It's good that he has people around him to help him out. He has Sam now, he has Eddie just to show him the ropes and stuff. It should be easy for him with the guys he has around him. I'm happy for him."

There are other strong Bibby ties to the Celtics.

House is married to Mike Bibby's sister, Charlsie. Sixers assistant coach and former NBA player Henry Bibby coached Brian Scalabrine at Southern California. And Doug Bibby's father, Fred, coached Celtics assistant Kevin Eastman as an assistant at the University of Richmond.

"They have such a strong family tradition for basketball," said Scalabrine about the Bibbys.

So who is Charlsie rooting for in the Celtics-Hawks series, her husband or her brother?

"Probably me," Mike Bibby said. "I didn't talk to her about it. We don't want to put her in that situation. She probably wants to see us both do good."

Said House, "She's pulling for us. She wants her brother to do good, but she wants me to win.

"She knows what it is. It's her brother. She wants to see him do well. But I'm her husband. She wants to see me win."

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