Well the new NBA season is upon us tonight. There has been plenty of talk and speculation during this off season, and rightly so as it was one of the most exciting and unpredictable well, ever, with a lot of time spent opinionating on who will eventually come out the other end as champions next June. There really is no point on me weighing in with my unwanted opinions on the subject that has been talked to death. (I’m tipping the Lakers to do it one last time and beat the Magic in the Finals if you’re wondering. No Miami Heat you ask? I’m giving them a year to find themselves before almost inevitable dominance.) There is one thing I would like to bring to your attention though before the first tip off, partially because I feel strongly about it and also because it did not get nearly as much coverage as it should have.
The Celtics. The Boston Celtics. Talked about as dark horses to win the title this year, and I think that’s a fair assessment of their chances. Funny thing though, when people talk about their chances the ageing ‘Big 3’ and the aquisition of veteran big man Shaquille O’ Neal are all that is really talked about. Kendrick Perkins knee injury is brought up occasionally too. Of course, this is all true and fine,but has everybody on earth forgotten about the class that is Rajon Rondo?
I’m going to say this before we go any further, the guy straight up does not get enough credit for his effort and hustle for this Boston Celtics team. He injects the flair, pace and youth needed to keep this organisation where it is. Not alone of course, but with the help of the ‘Big 3’. The 24 year old point guard out of the University of Kentucky, via the prestigious Oak Hill Academy high school, has lit up courts since his introduction to the NBA in 2006. These were subtle contributions at first, playing behind Sebastian Telfair in his rookie season, but once given the keys to this team in 2008 his class really shone through. He won a championship that year, (That’s one more ring than Lebron, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard has by the way…) and yes it is true that a large part of that success was because of the ‘Big 3’ that is Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. But he contributed as well and right there and then the ‘Big 3’ should have then on been known as the ‘Big 4’.
The season just gone by saw another massive improvement in Rondo, his electric movement and cheek to take on the big men in driving to the hole or pull up and knock off a three becoming far more consistant, contributing more to the team and dragging them back up when they needed somebody to step forward. Then during the post-season he became an animal, posting two triple-doubles en route to the Finals against the much fancied Lakers. Of course the Lakers came off best in that classic duel but not without Rondo leaving his mark on the series, something he will be looking to build on, starting tonight against the Miami Heat. Indeed the visual highlight for many last season, and one that has been played at the TD Garden many times since, was Rondo’s dive onto the floor and in between the legs of the Orlando Magic’s Jason Williams to retrieve the ball during the Eastern playoff finals. (Watch that amazing moment here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vvcbMNJQVbI)
I think it’s a great injustice that Rondo is not heavily talked about in top 5 point guards in the NBA either, having shown that he clearly is with his mix of ability, hustle, flash and championship ring. Yes Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Steve Nash, Jason Kidd and Tony Parker are all class acts but come on, is Rondo really behind all six of these point guards in most people’s eyes?
Rajon Rondo will only get the credit he fully deserves when the the majority of the current squad retire or are shuffled out the door bringing with them their aching legs and stiff backs. He will truely carry the team then, and I firmly believe that under his guidance that they can make the playoffs every year easily. And as we all know, once there Rondo becomes and even better player resulting in what could be more deep playoff runs down the road for the Celtics. He will be their superstar then. Maybe even their saviour. For now though he is their unsung hero, their glorified role player, but I will always shout long and hard for his cause because Rajon Rondo is one of the best players in the NBA and one to watch out for this season.
(Now watch highlights from Rajon Rondo’s 2009-2010 season: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FIs1KvJhcTo)