Rajon Rondo wasn’t always the coolest head in his NBA team’s dressing room.
The Los Angeles Lakers guard credits Kevin Garnett for teaching him how to become a team leader during their time with the Boston Celtics. Rondo was just 20 years old and had experienced only one NBA season when Garnett, a Hall of Fame-bound superstar with 13 professional seasons under his belt, arrived in Boston ahead of the 2007-08 season. Rondo, now 33, explained to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher that Garnett’s consistent presence was instrumental in his growth into a star and later a mentor.
“That’s why KG was so big for me,” Rondo said. “When things didn’t go well in Boston, Kevin would be one of the first guys to call me and tell me, ‘That was right today’ or ‘That was wrong today.’ The biggest thing he taught me was that you can’t pick and choose when you want to be a leader. You have to do it every day. …”
Rondo contrasted his own evolution into a leader to LeBron James’, who didn’t have the luxury of playing with future Hall of Famers and other grizzled veterans when he first entered the NBA.
“I was fortunate, later, to have great leaders like KG and (coach) Doc Rivers,” Rondo continued. “Sam Cassell came in; Eddie House; Keyon Dooling; PJ Brown. I took a little bit from all of them. … I don’t know who LeBron had his first couple of years as far as how to be a leader or what it takes. He might not be a vocal leader or deal with confrontation, but he’s in the gym every day. He’s leading that way.”
Rondo used lessons Garnett and Co. taught him during his eight-plus years with the Celtics and in subsequent stints with the Dallas Mavericks, Sacramento Kings, Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and the Lakers. Those teammates whom Rondo positively has impacted over the years probably also owe Garnett a word of thanks.
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