COMMENTARY | Rajon Rondo's ACL injury was the beginning of the end of an era. The Boston Celtics showed they couldn't compete without their star point guard, as they lost in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Knicks. The team struggled to create any sort of offense with Avery Bradley and Jason Terry struggling to run the point, as Rondo's absence became painfully obvious. Then, all the dominos fell.
Doc Rivers left for the Los Angeles Clippers, and Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Terry were dealt to the Brooklyn Nets. With the roster gutted, Rondo is unquestionably the best player remaining in Boston.
Many have speculated that Doc Rivers and the team's veterans have kept Rondo in check over the past few years. There have been rumors that Rondo has had problems with Rivers and ex-teammate Ray Allen, leading some to believe he may not be ready to lead a team. Of course, plenty of this could just be chatter. It seems as if most people enjoy playing with Rondo, as he always looks to get his teammates good shots on a nightly basis.
While many are counting Rondo out as a leader, Paul Pierce is sticking up for his ex-teammate. You can read Pierce's full quotes here, where he is not short on compliments for the new face of the Boston franchise.
It's impossible to know how Rondo will react this season, as he has never been in this kind of situation. Three of the figures he has relied heavily on in the past, Garnett, Pierce, and Rivers, are no longer around. All of the sudden, everyone will be looking at him to lead the team, both on and off the court. He has a rookie head coach in Brad Stevens, and they have plenty to learn together.
With all of this being said, it's silly to already dismiss Rondo's ability to lead a team. He has played with plenty of respected veterans during his time in the league, and has learned from some of the best around. Rondo was the starting point guard on a championship team, and led his banged up Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals not too long ago to battle the Miami Heat. Avery Bradley was out, Ray Allen was hobbled, and Garnett and Pierce were running on fumes. Rondo carried his team then, and there's no reason he can't be a good leader for this young team. It didn't seem as if anyone was questioning his ability to lead back then.
The bigger question may be how he will return from his ACL injury. Despite the success of many athletes following these kind of injuries, it is certainly a tough task to return at a high caliber.
This season should be very interesting, as Danny Ainge will look for Rondo to lead his franchise into a new era. Count Paul Pierce as one of Rondo's believers.
Mark lives in the Boston area and has been covering the Celtics for 3 years. He has been featured on Fox Sports Yardbarker, Fox Sports, and Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks", and has been published on Celtics 24/7, Bleacher Report, and Sports-Kings.
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- Sports & Recreation
- Paul Pierce
- Boston Celtics
- Rajon Rondo
- Kevin Garnett
- Doc Rivers
- Avery Bradley
- Los Angeles Clippers