Other coaches just don’t get Rondo.
First, the Knicks’ Mike D’Antoni ruffled a few Celtic feathers in the first round of the playoffs in April, making a little wisecrack about the C’s point guard being surrounded by three future Hall of Famers.
“I’d like to see Rondo in Minnesota,” he told a room full of reporters at Madison Square Garden.
Then, Doc Rivers fired back.
“Keep saying it,” Rivers responded, before watching a newly motivated Rondo destroy the Knicks in Game 4 of the first round, finishing off a clean sweep.
Then, after Round 2, after Rondo had played three games against the Miami Heat with a dislocated left elbow, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich slammed the media for comparing Rondo to Willis Reed in the 1970 NBA Finals.
“It’s really been hard to watch the playoffs and have them make Rondo out like Willis Reed,” Pop said last week, according to the San Antonio Express-News. “It’s like, Manu [Ginobili] couldn’t even play [the Spurs’ Game 1 against the Grizzlies], and we probably shouldn’t have played him again. But he went out there and worked through it, and you didn’t hear any of that kind of crap.”
Is it crap? Really?
You can watch the injury for yourself and draw your own conclusions. But it sure looks pretty gruesome, and it’s hard to dispute that Rondo deserves some props for coming back from a pretty ugly injury. He was in a lot of pain last week, but to him, winning was more important. That’s a profound statement.
In both cases, D’Antoni and Popovich alike, the comments smell an awful lot like sour grapes. Rondo’s a 25-year-old All-Star point guard, just now beginning to enter the prime years of his career. He’d be good anywhere, on any roster, and with practically any injury. But some people just won’t give him the credit he deserves.
Making the “three Hall of Famers” argument is easy. Rondo’s been hearing it for years. But questioning his toughness, his competitive drive or his talent is not so easy. He’s got all three in abundance.
Rondo blocks out the criticism. Always has, always will. And that’s for the best — he has no reason to care what D’Antoni, Popovich or anyone else thinks.
Doc’s the one coach who gets Rondo. The two of them work together. Everyone else can eat their hearts out.
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