I haven't really had time to indulge my passion of writing about sports stuff (particularly Kentucky sports stuff) today, because real life has me "... steppin' and fetchin'" like my head's on fire and my gluteus maximus is catchin'. That's good, I guess, in a weird, businessy sort of way.
But I did want to take a few words to recognize the remarkable game by Rajon Rondo on Sunday, which evened the series between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists, a triple-double of the magnitude only the great Oscar Robinson ever accomplished from the back court in a playoff game. That's historic, folks -- not just impressive. To be mentioned in the same breath with The Big O is ... well, it's really something.
Rondo was always going to be a very good NBA player, in my opinion. When he left Kentucky, there was no way he was lottery-worthy, but he went just outside the lottery at #21, which I thought was about right. He wound up in Boston as a back-up to Sebastian Telfair, who shortly thereafter went out and made a mess of his career by being charged with felony possession of a handgun. Four days later, Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck removed Telfair's nameplate from his locker and announced he would not be returning to the team.
Telfair's faux pas proved to be the opportunity Rondo needed. SB Nation's Andrew Sharp uses an interesting metaphor to explain how and why both he and Steve Nash got where they are, but in my mind, Rondo was always going to be an NBA starter somewhere -- he was just too good, and we saw that skill quite frequently in his two years at Kentucky. But chemistry problems and an offensive style not really suited to Rondo's game made his time here less than spectacular, even if it was still very, very good. In my judgment book, Rondo had the best handle I have seen since Jason Kidd.
Remarkably, sportswriters are now calling the Celtics, dripping as they are with aging superstars, Rondo's team -- and I'm not sure they're wrong. Rondo is clearly capable of attacking the defense in ways that none of the aforementioned graybeards can anymore, and able to get the ball to said graybeards in scoring position when he can't do it himself.
And if you think that's remarkable, take a look at this: the Cavaliers are talking about guarding Rajon Rondo with ... LeBron James:
Some have put out a call for LeBron James to switch to guarding Rondo in the hopes of Goliath this time beating David.
You have to admit, there is no higher sign of respect for what a player is doing than asking your best player to guard him out of position. But seriously, LeBron James has only a slightly better chance of staying in front of Rondo than I do -- I know James is a sick athlete, but he is by no means quick enough to stay with Rondo, or to keep him from doing what he does best. But who knows, maybe I'm wrong -- I just don't think so.
When a player gets on a roll like this, it's usually best to try to shut down the rest of the team and let the hot player try to beat you by himself. That may be tougher with the Celtics, especially if one of their other stars gets hot, but you have to pick your poison.
Still, it is great to see a Kentucky Wildcat doing so well on the next level, and I am only a little surprised at what Rondo has been able to do. One thing is for sure -- I'll be tuning in to tomorrow's game hoping to see more excellence from him.