Rarely does Rajon Rondo reveal many of his feelings, at least publicly. Most of the time he speaks to the media, it’s with short answers or thinly-veiled sarcasm, like the reporters are pests he would rather flick away than speak to — and to be fair, reporters can be quite annoying, hovering around lockers in swarms, shoving their recording devices in players’ faces.
But Jessica Camerato has an ability to encourage players to open up about their emotions, and even Rondo — whose own sister calls him “Oscar” after the Grouch — is susceptible to her magical powers.
Rondo emerged from his emotional cocoon briefly during an interview with Camerato. You should read the entire piece (there are also some interesting quotes from Ray Allen and Rondo’s high school coach), but the most intriguing quotes involved Rondo’s relationship with Doc Rivers.
“I try to keep it even keel on the court, even demeanor, never too high, never too low. But off the court, I think I’m a fun guy to be around, especially if I like you,” he said with a laugh. “I’m pretty much like a go-with-the-flow guy. I’m laidback, I’m very competitive. I pretty much think I can do anything if you put the challenge to me, so I just try to have fun while I’m doing it.”
“Actually, my sister, she calls me ‘Oscar’ like the grouch because I work her a little bit,” Rondo continued. “They get on me, call me a ‘divo.’ Doc (Rivers), KG, they got on me, say I’m high maintenance. I just try to fly under the radar. I just tell them they’re the same, obviously I’ve learned from guys that’s in front of me (laughs). My coach is a leader, Kevin’s my vet, so if I get it, it’s from them (smiles).”
Said Rivers, “He’s just trying to be a better leader. He’s being consistent at it, he’s doing a great job. I think he’s trying to be [more outward]. People forget about how young he is. It just takes him some time. We call Kevin that (a divo), we kid around with that. But he has a chance to be better than just a great player. He can be a great leader too. If he can do both, that’s big for our team.”
I could be reading too far into Rondo’s quote, but it sounds like the rumblings of Rondo’s attitude are overblown: If he really is such a huge nuisance, there’s no way Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers would joke around with him and call him a “divo.” Right? Garnett doesn’t exactly seem like one to joke around about a serious problem.
We hear a lot about Rondo being difficult to handle, but rarely do we hear details of his attitude problems. Every once in a while a story emerges — like when we hear that Brandon Bass told Rondo to shut up during the Knicks game this weekend, or when we hear about Rondo throwing a water bottle off a video screen during a fit of rage in the Celtics facilities.
Last week Rivers came out and said his relationship with Rondo had never been better. He’s defending his point guard, and Rondo does seem to be progressing, at least from what we hear. At the very least, he’s shown maturity in dealing with all the trade rumors. He hasn’t said a single wrong word publicly, even though being included in 25 bazillion trade rumors per day cannot be enjoyable.
If you haven’t already, read Camerato’s entire piece. Now.