You take a good long look at Rajon Rondo, and even at age 24 with still so much potential left untapped and so many elements of his game still developing, you see a guy who's already become a cornerstone of the Celtics' franchise. A big part of their future, too.
And he's already got his name etched in the record book.
Rondo made Celtics history on Friday night against Sacramento, snatching one away from the Kings' Sean May for his 168th steal of the season, a new single-season franchise record. He's on pace to shatter the mark set by Rick Fox in 1996-97. Soon after, he piled on steals 169 and 170.
The Celtics all basked in Rondo's record on Friday night, a whole team sharing in the glory of one individual's accomplishment. On a night when they mathematically eliminated Toronto to officially clinch the Atlantic Division title, no one cared about the team's record or its standings. It was all about the point guard.
Rondo himself was both humbled and empowered by the record. A strange mix, to be sure.
"It is a great accomplishment," he said Friday. "This organization has won so many championships and has had some great players come through. So many All-Stars have set records here. Hopefully, down the line, another record."
Another record? He just got done setting the first one.
But that's the kind of player Rondo is — he's never content, never complacent. Always striving to get better, and always confident that he can.
So what's next for Rondo?
No-brainer: It's the assist record. With 15 dimes in the Celtics' win over the Nuggets on Wednesday night, 18 more against the Kings on Friday, and then seven Sunday against San Antonio, Rondo has 703 assists this season, a career high. He's just 12 away from the Celtics' single-season record in that category — Bob Cousy recorded 715 for Boston in the 1959-60 season.
That record should fall Wednesday night at the Garden, when the Celtics take on Oklahoma City. Or at the very latest, pencil him in for Friday.
Two records in the annals of basketball's most storied franchise? Not bad for a 24-year-old kid with his career still ahead of him. Shoot, it's not bad for anyone — and there could be more down the road.
Rondo has recorded 577 steals in his career. In just under four full seasons, that's an absolutely insane number. He might not catch John Stockton (3,265) atop the NBA's all-time list, but it's certainly not out of the question that if Rondo stays in Celtic green, he could catch Larry Bird's Celtics record of 1,556 career steals.
How about assists? On a per-game basis, Cousy finished his career with 7.6. If Rondo rattles off a few more seasons of eight-plus, the Celtics' career record is within his reach. Rondo has 2,052 career assists — he's got a long way to go, but he could give chase to Cousy's 6,945.
It might sound crazy to talk about a 24-year-old kid like this, but it makes sense with Rondo because you're looking at a franchise player in the making. And the guy wants the Celtics to be his franchise.
He signed a massive extension last fall to stay in Boston, a five-year, $55 million deal that gives him the respect he deserves as one of the game's best point guards. The respect is mutual — Rondo has committed to being a part of the Celtics' plans going forward, and the Celtics have committed to Rondo. With good reason. He's got the potential to be one of the greats.
All this talk about numbers, about milestones, about records, it's all well and good, but what's really rewarding in the end is being a part of history. A lot of the game's legends have passed through Boston over the years, and there's no honor in the game greater than being remembered as one of them.
Some day, people could look up to Rajon Rondo the same way they do Bob Cousy now. But that day is far, far off. For now, a couple entries in the record book will have to do.
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