Rajon Rondo could have just nodded his head when reporters asked him whether he felt he let the Celtics down by getting suspended for Game 2. It would have saved him from the crowd of detractors waving pitchforks and shouting questions like, “How do you not feel regret when your moronic actions could have cost the Celtics Game 2 and maybe even their opening-round series with the Atlanta Hawks?”
Instead, Rondo aimed the question back to reporters.
“No. Do you feel like I let them down?” he asked.
It was classic Rondo, not necessarily being a dick just to be a dick, but, more likely, being a dick to hide his true emotions. Whereas some players, like Keyon Dooling, bare their souls to reporters, Rondo often answers questions like the shy 10-year old getting a car ride from his friend’s mother. He rarely discusses his deepest feelings, rarely gives anybody a window into what makes him tick.
Doc Rivers admitted Thursday that Rondo is a tough character to read, even for his coach. But he added something that he might not have added last year, a quick quote that is worth becoming more than a footnote in Rondo’s biography, whenever that might be published. (WEEI)
“I always think his intentions are right,” Rivers said. “That doesn’t mean he always does the right things all the time. I’d rather have a guy have good intentions than guys who are just thinking about themselves purely. When that happens you view it as a selfish act, but I don’t think he did it selfishly. It just turned into a selfish act.”
Rondo is difficult to read for anyone, and it seems he is difficult to read because he wants to be. This is a math genius who loves Connect Four and legitimately mourned for Kendrick Perkins when his best friend got traded from the Celtics. There’s something deeper there, emotions that he feels and his teammates at elast occasionally experience, but we, the general public, never get to appreciate because Rondo simply won’t let us. He has a dry sense of humor which he occasionally uses during interviews, but really, we hardly get to see the inner sanctums of Rondo’s personality.
As Bethlehem Shoals wrote on GQ during a piece contrasting the self-sabotaging actions of Rondo and Amare Stoudemire, Rondo is an enigma.
Rajon Rondo is a cerebral player given to poor judgment, moodiness, and extremely questionable decisions. That’s how Rondo approaches the game; it also pretty well describes his conduct on the court, in the locker room, around the arena. As an actual human being, he’s a total enigma, a term overused in sports but one that applies almost literally here. If Amar’e's style of (healthy) play is beyond most humans and many gods, it’s at least a fantasy of basketball dominance that we’re practically born with. It’s nearly impossible to imagine being able to do what Rondo does, to insert yourself into his position. That would require trying to make sense of his thinking, not to mention guessing how one is supposed to react upon doing a Rondo-y thing. Certainly, the man himself offers very few clues. And really, it couldn’t be any other way.
Rajon Rondo is always stranded somewhere between bullet skip-pass improv and deep, often witty, thinking about spatial relations. You can forgive him for not always making sense to the outside world. You can maybe even see how such a dual-processor mind would also be capable of, say, leading a team with frightful, unsaid determination and then erupting in self-sabotage. That doesn’t make it any easier to understand, much less sympathize with.
To get a better explanation of Rondo’s personality, then, we have to look toward his teammates. Of course, that doesn’t really help. Perkins loved him. Several teammates have bumped heads with him. Keyon Dooling describes his burgeoning leadership. Several reports have cited Rondo as a locker room problem and nobody really seemed to disagree too strongly, but after he got suspended for doing something incredibly stupid the entire team had his back.
We may never learn everything about Rondo. He just doesn’t want to let us. But every once in a while we receive a clue that he goes deeper than the surface, that the prickly jock who acts like he has no remorse actually feels vulnerability just like the rest of us. (ESPN)
“I think I ran down the tunnel and gave [Kevin Garnett] the first hug, told him, ‘Thank you.’ I appreciate everything you guys have done for me,” said Rondo. “Obviously, they won it for themselves, but they told me, ‘We got this one for you.’ That felt good. It felt like I was a part of it. It changed the series.” …
“He was very happy, thanking guys as we were getting on the bus,” said Rivers. “That’s great. I don’t know if he would have done that two years ago. He would have been thankful, but he would have been in the back of the bus with his head down — down on himself. Instead, I’m sure he still was [down on himself], but he showed emotion towards the other guys. I keep saying it, you guys get the luxury, including me, of watching him grow up in front of us. That’s a step there.”
That’s a step not only in Rondo’s maturity, but in our learning process of determining everything he represents. He is both the suspended point guard who thanked all his teammates when they won in his absence and the suspended point guard who told the media he felt no remorse. He is also likely many things in between, and over the years, as he continues to mature, he might even clue us in.