I don’t know if Rajon Rondo’s ejection meant anything more than, “Damn it, my team’s losing to the Detroit Pistons for the second time in a week, Detroit has taken 1,494 free throws compared to our six, and yes, I’m a little perturbed by this entire debacle.” Many good people have lost their cool during a basketball game; I got ejected from a men’s league game yesterday morning, and I’m normally the type of person who reads the newspaper and sips on a cup of tea while riots break out around me.
But put the dominoes together. Rondo had the best game of his season during a win against Chicago and refused to speak to the press afterward. I could care less about whether he speaks to the predatory horde of media surrounding his locker, but teammates later mentioned how Rondo is going through tough times. Less than a week later, he tossed a ball off a referee during a fit of frustration.
Trade rumors have swirled. Rondo didn’t make the All-Star team. Fans are calling for his head. His on-court feng shui with Paul Pierce has been called into question, the most famous Celtics fan alive wrote that he wants Rondo to be shipped away, and meanwhile, the Celtics have lost five out of six despite Rondo’s occasional brilliance, and despite that they haven’t surrendered 100 points in a game since Dec. 27th, during the second game of the season against the Miami Heat. The Celtics are an offensively challenged team with a thousand different problems, and Rondo seems to be blamed for the majority of them, sometimes fairly and many times unfairly.
Let me repeat: I don’t know whether Rondo’s ejection last night meant much. He could have just been naturally frustrated during a lopsided loss against a shitty team with referees who didn’t blow many whistles on the Pistons. There might not be anything more to the story than that. But if there is something more, Rondo has many reasons to boil and stew about the path his season is following. I’m not condoning his behavior and I would agree that he should demonstrate more maturity. But even those preternaturally talented enough to spin triple doubles in the National Basketball Association are not immune to occasional emotional outbursts, and Rondo — God bless his enigmatic soul — has plenty of reason for emotional buildup right now.
But no need to eat Rondo alive after his ejection. Even if he does have frustration filling inside him like a bath tub being drawn, he’s playing hard and he’s playing well. There are a lot of things to hate about the Celtics right now, but Rondo isn’t one of them.