Stress, Family and Quest for Banner No. 18 Led to Rajon Rondo’s Departure From Team USA

Stress, Family and Quest for Banner No. 18 Led to Rajon Rondo's Departure From Team USA Speculation abounded when Rajon Rondo departed Team USA abruptly from the FIBA World Championship in late August.

Did Coach Mike Krzyzewski cut him? Was Rondo saving face by leaving, instead? Did he legitimately opt out?

It appears to be the latter, according to the 24-year-old point guard.

He told ESPN's Ric Bucher that the decision came after a multitude of stress piled up just a bit too
high.

According to the article, Rondo admitted he was struggling being away from his two-year-old daughter and longtime girlfriend (whom he's now reportedly planning to marry). He was also dealing with the death of his uncle and feeling fatigued from a long and devastating playoff run. And yes, he had a general distaste for the food in Europe — which one can imagine is a far cry from his Kentucky cuisine.

Perhaps more importantly, Rondo told Bucher, was his need to focus on winning another title with Boston.

"It was great to practice every day against the best young talent in the league, a veteran like Chauncey Billups and [to] play for a Hall of Fame coach," Rondo said. "But some of these guys hadn't played since April. Lamar [Odom] and I had just got out of Game 7. And next season is right around the corner."

Back in August, the move had nearly every sports writer — even those in Boston — wondering why Rondo had been "cut." Had Derrick Rose simply surpassed the Celtics' young gun? Russell Westbrook, too?

"It all sounds like a bunch of [expletive] to me," one blogger wrote. "Rondo got cut. Say it like is, [team director Jerry] Colangelo, you’re not sparing anybody’s feelings."

Colangelo, meanwhile, stuck to the story.

"Rajon came to us and said he was going to withdraw from the team," he said at the time. "That he had some family matters to attend to and some things to take care of before the NBA season. He did an outstanding job during our training, we appreciate the effort and commitment he made to our program and he completely has our support."

Simply put: Rondo is focused on Banner No. 18.

"I feel like I had to take advantage of the opportunity I have right now to win another championship," he told ESPN. "It's not often you get to play with four Hall of Famers. Another couple of years and I won't have that."

It is all very good news for Boston fans.

First, they can stop worrying about Rose out-competing Rondo. It's not going to happen when it comes to the NBA postseason. Unlike Rose, Boston's PG played the entirety of the playoffs — 24 games and almost a thousand minutes of postseason action to Rose's five-game ousting by Cleveland. The world championship was simply a luxury Rondo couldn't afford.

Second, the Louisville native is determined to get another shot at the title. Ultimately, he chose his family and his teammates over a tournament that didn't need him, anyway. Rose and Westbrook can have their gold medal — and kudos to them for breaking USA's drought in the worlds — but Rondo has his eyes on another golden trophy. Apparently nothing, not even the world championships, will stand in his way.

Yardbarker

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