Rajon Rondo gets it.
Boston Celtics fans booed the Chicago Bulls point guard throughout Game 1 of the teams’ first-round playoff series Sunday, and there’s a good chance the TD Garden crowd will continue to let Rondo hear it amid the heat of battle. The way Rondo sees it, it’s nothing personal. In fact, the former Celtics star expects nothing less from the boisterous fans who once cheered him on for eight-plus seasons.
“These fans are great,” Rondo said before Tuesday’s shootaround, according to ESPN.com. “I wouldn’t expect anything else. A couple nice words were said when I walked out of the tunnel, but that’s Boston. They’ve been doing that for me for nine years while I was here so I don’t expect it (another way).”
The Celtics acquired Rondo in a draft night trade with the Phoenix Suns in 2006. The Kentucky product soon established himself as a key contributor, earning four All-Star nods with the C’s and winning a championship alongside Boston’s Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in 2008.
Danny Ainge and the Celtics eventually traded Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks in December 2014, landing Jae Crowder, among other assets, in the process. Rondo’s career hasn’t been the same since, but he’s peaking at the right time this season. Now, he’s looking to knock off his former team, which has the city of Boston buzzing after locking up the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed.
“I’ve been walking the streets the last couple of days,” Rondo said of returning to Boston, per ESPN.com. “It’s a pretty good welcoming back — (people ask) for autographs and pictures, so they have to boo me (later). Obviously I’ve got on a red jersey, so it’s part of it.”
Go ahead, Boston. Keep booing Rondo out of the building. He’ll understand.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images