Rajon Rondo solidified his place in Boston Celtics history back in 2008, and although the following nine-plus seasons, which included eight one-year stops across the NBA, weren’t nearly as memorable, it doesn’t matter.

On Tuesday, the now-38-year-old announced his official retirement from the NBA, calling it a career after four All-Star appearances (with Boston), two NBA All-Defensive First Team selections and two NBA Finals championships. Nothing for Rondo, who last played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2021-22, to hang his head over when looking back at his playing career.

Rondo first broke onto the scene when then-Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge traded for the drafting rights of the Kentucky product, ahead of the 2006 NBA Draft. Eager to jump at the chance at selecting the Wildcats sophomore, Ainge shipped a 2007 first-rounder to the Phoenix Suns, who agreed to draft Rondo at No. 21, giving Boston a young, speedy guard, who’d go on to surpass Sebastian Telfair — who the Celtics selected at No. 7 and was viewed as the team’s future starting guard.

Yet, it was Rondo who grew into the hidden gem uncovered by “Trader Danny” and Celtics governor Wyc Grousbeck, who co-signed Ainge’s swap.

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“We had Rondo rated very, very high in this draft,” Ainge said in 2006, per Brain Robb of MassLive. “When we saw he was available around 15, 16, we started exploring some opportunities to get him. We feel like speed is the way the game is going right now.”

Speed was just one of many attributes Rondo supplied the Celtics with after Boston entrusted him as the team’s full-time starting point guard entering the 2007-08 season. Ainge stuck with his gut, packaged Telfair in a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Garnett, putting the wheels in motion for Banner 17 to be raised after a 22-year drought.

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Granted, Rondo played in the shadow of Boston’s “Big Three” of Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, but that doesn’t dismiss his crafty ability to make scoring a Sunday morning breeze each night. Rondo, at 21 years old, was running a Celtics offense that recorded a league-high 10.8 net rating in the regular season, and ranked second in the Eastern Conference in effective field-goal percentage (52.2%). They finished 66-16 in the regular season and never lost more than three times consecutively.

It all came together once the playoffs commenced and the Rondo unleashed a version of himself that resonated with Boston fans and teammates.

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Rondo was sensational, dishing out 13 assists in Game 5 of the conference finals versus the Detroit Pistons, scoring 21 points and six steals in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, as a prime contributor. Rondo was energetic, involved on both ends of the floor and was arguably the most versatile — and electric — facilitator during his prime.

The following season, Rondo went head-to-head with runaway Rookie of the Year winner Derrick Rose in Boston’s second-round series against the Bulls, averaging 19.4 points, 11.6 assists and 9.3 rebounds to eliminate Chicago in seven games. In Game 6 of that series, Rondo set the all-time Celtics record for most assists (19) in a playoff contest, which he beat — and still owns — by reaching 20 in 2011 against the New York Knicks.

When the “Big Three” era reached its end and Rondo was stranded as the lone representative of that chapter in Celtics basketball, it was time to move on. Boston traded its homegrown floor general to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014, which was the start of the end of Rondo’s All-Star form. He had issues with head coach Rick Carlisle in Dallas, was highly-regarded as a bad teammate outside of Boston and even clung onto a heated beef with fellow guard Chris Paul — going as far as to punch Paul’s face in 2018.

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Fans outside of Boston don’t cherish Rondo nearly as much as those at TD Garden still do, even 10 years following the trade to Dallas. But that doesn’t mean anything in the grand scheme of reflecting back on Rondo the Celtic. He was quick, creative far beyond what can be taught and embraced the pressure of showing up when the light brights were shining on the parquet. He’d go to whatever lengths were necessary, even if it meant suffering a dislocated elbow while fighting for a loose ball against Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat in the 2011 playoffs.

Aside from a sour relationship with Allen that’s ironed itself out according to ex-teammate Kendrick Perkins, the Celtics still value Rondo; so much so that Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla included Rondo in a list of alumni who were invited back to practice and film sessions ahead of the preseason.

“You do that in a lot of college programs, where alumni comes back. But in the pros you don’t do it as much cause guys (get) traded to so many different teams and it’s the NBA,” Rondo said while attending a team practice in October, per NBC Sports Boston. “So to get the email, it was very welcoming and like I said, humbling at the same time. Paul called me at like three in the morning. He was like, ‘Look, they want us back.’ I’m like, ‘Hello.’ Like I said, it was a great call and here I am today.”

Rondo represents the last great Celtics team to get over the hump and get the job done, against a primed Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol-led Lakers. Players on Boston’s current roster were growing up watching Rondo’s masterclass work as the team’s former floor general, and also haven’t forgotten the compiled moments that create Rondo’s career highlight reel.

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“It’s so cool having these guys come around to be a part of practice, to be a part of the organization,” Jaylen Brown told reporters after spending time with Rondo, per NBC Sports Boston. “Growing up watching the Celtics, seeing KG, Rondo and Pierce and to be able to have them in our practice, in our film room, and them telling you like, ‘Nah, this is how you gotta do it, this is what they see,’ I think that’s a tremendous honor.”

Rondo was the last of Boston’s 2008 title-winning squad to retire.

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images