We've been hearing all year long about the way Rajon Rondo has revolutionized the Celtics' offense, carrying the team with his speed and his energy. But on Wednesday afternoon, Rondo was honored for his prowess on the other end of the floor.
Rondo was named to the NBA's 2009-10 All-Defensive first team for the first time in his career. After a season in which he led the NBA and broke a Celtics single-season record with 189 steals, Rondo was pleased with the recognition for his year of hard work.
"It's an honor," Rondo said on Wednesday at the team's practice facility in Waltham. "It's something I take pride in. It was one of my goals that I started out for at the beginning of this year, and now I've accomplished it."
Rondo worked hard toward that goal last season as well, but he finished behind L.A.'s Kobe Bryant and New Orleans' Chris Paul in the race for the two guard spots on the 2008-09 team. This year, he broke through.
"It's something I've worked for, ever since I came into the league," Rondo said. "Last year I made [the second team], and this year I was just trying to strive to be better. One of my goals was to make the first team."
Rondo is joined on the first team by Bryant; forwards LeBron James of Cleveland and Gerald Wallace of Charlotte; and center Dwight Howard of Orlando, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year.
"He deserves it," said Rondo's head coach, Doc Rivers. "He's worked at it, and it's a great honor for him. You know, he took it in stride. He was just like, 'Great.' But I love the way he took it, because I think you could tell he's more focused on the playoffs right now than on some individual honor. But listen — when you're on the first team of anything in our league, it's a hell of an honor."
Rondo earned 23 first-team votes and four second-team nods for a total of 50 points, second only to Howard's 57. Other Celtics to receive votes were Kevin Garnett with five points and Kendrick Perkins with four.
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