Within the most absolute irrationality, Rajon Rondo emerged for the Lakers. He was neither the best player nor the most decisive, but he was key in the return to the top of the Los Angeles franchise, which reigns in the NBA ten years after winning the Finals against the Celtics … in which Rondo was. Spectacular reference of the Bostonians, the point guard sought his particular redemption against what had been his eternal rival In a different era in which LeBron James still did not dominate the League and did not shoot more than three times than two. After leaving the team to which he had dedicated his first nine years as a professional, Rondo spent a tumultuous stage in the Mavs, in which he was relegated to the bench by a Rick Carlisle who was unnerved; then he went through the Kings, some Bulls in which he had problems with Jimmy Butler and Fred Hoiberg and ended up landing in a Pelicans in which he alternated phases of the most absolute boredom with a brilliant season finale and extraordinary playoffs who ended up confirming that the legend that surrounds him, that of Playoff Rondo, It’s much more than that. That his improvement in the final phase is as illogical as it is objective and that, except for the Mavs (and Kings, with whom he did not play the playoffs), it has been a constant in the career of one of the best point guards of his generation.
Rondo was precisely witness to the last vestiges of the rivalry between Lakers and Celtics. In those Finals of 2010, settled with an angel victory, the last great confrontation was seen, which two years earlier had had another chapter. It was the first since the two teams met in 1987 and marked Boston’s first title in 22 years. In those Finals and accompanied by Garnett, Pierce and Allen, Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.7 assists. He took the starting position with only 22 springs ahead of others playmakers like Eddie House or Sam Cassell, he dished out 16 assists in the game 2, the maximum of the series, and went to 21 + 7 + 8 in the sixth and final match, with 6 robberies and a historic beating of the eternal rival, who won by 39 points. In 2010, two years later, Rondo was already a consolidated point guard and one of the fundamental pillars of the Celtics. In the second round he would face LeBron’s Cavs (29 + 18 + 13 in the fourth game and 20.7 + 6.3 + 11.8 + 1.8 on average in the series) whom he would take down, along with his teammates, in six games, causing the march of a Rey still without a crown to the Heat with that controversy The Decision and beginning a new era in modern basketball that has ended, long live the coincidences, with LeBron and Rondo sharing a team in the Lakers … and winning a new ring. The fourth for James and the second for the point guard, who had to wait 12 long years to return to savor the greatest of successes.
Rondo averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists in the 2010 Finals and, over the next few years, he became the undisputed leader of an aging group that had already passed its prime and who had his last great option in 2012, precisely against LeBron’s Heat, with whom they lost 4-3 after having match ball in the garden and be sentenced by the King (and 45 + 15 + 5 …). However, two years earlier, the last great episode of an eternal struggle had taken place, now translated into 34 rings (17 per head), for the 40 that the rest of the NBA franchises have combined. In that eternal dispute for the definitive throne of the best League in the world, Jerry West’s battles against a Bill Russell who they could never beat and the confrontations between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson in the 80s they were the jewel in the crown (including a revival of the NBA) of the constant struggle that has covered almost the entire existence of the competition and that has had its two best teams in the Lakers and Celtics and, also, its most historic rivalry.
Now, ten years after the last Finals between the two teams, we are only two green victories away from seeing the classic confrontation again. But, being a decade in which each franchise has lived its particular crisis, Rondo has broken an almost unusual record in the competition between the two franchises: has become the second player in history to win the ring wearing both jerseys, an extreme rarity. In addition, he is the only one who has achieved it since the transfer of the Lakers to Los Angeles (1961). Before, Clyde Lovellette had won in Minneapolis, in 1954, the ring as a Lakers player. Almost a decade later, in 1963 and 1964, he won two more championships with Bill Russell’s Celtics. The first of them was precisely against the Lakers, although in none did he have the same prominence that he had in his early years, where he became one of the best indoor players in the competition. Playing with both franchises is not so rare (Avery Bradley, his partner, has also done it) but it is to be champion. At the end of the day, if something has been proven throughout history, it is that winning, even with the Lakers and Celtics, is not easy. Never is. And in the case of Rondo, in the same way that it was part of the 17th title in the history of the Celtics, it has also been part of the 17th of the Lakers.
Apart from his second ring with the eternal rival, Rondo has re-established himself as a playoff player. In the last two seasons he has mixed good moments (very brief) with very bad (and constant). It has had some good peak, but it has always been mitigated with dimensionless disasters. and a movement contrary to his person of the hater community that he declared himself a Lakers fan that has contrasted with the amazement caused by his great level in the playoffs. In full decline, Rondo has played only three starting games this season, and 20.5 minutes a night, both career lows. In addition, he has shot less than 33% on 3s, a statistic that was not that low since his senior year in Boston. And he has averaged 7.1 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists, his worst numbers since his rookie year.. On the way to 35 years old, few were those who remembered their playoffs with the Pelicans (Anthony Davis, whoops) in 2018 or that, in the Bulls, with him on the court they won their first two first-round games at the Garden (yes, against the Celtics) … and they lost the next four, who played without their injured point guard.
Rondo made his debut in the first game against the Rockets, adding 8 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals, but playing badly, in that worse version that he always shows in the regular phase, with a lot of time with the ball in his hands, little creative ability and a ridiculous defense. In the second game, everything changed: 10 points, 9 assists and 5 steals, with a +28 with him on the court. And in the third he was crowned with 21 points and 9 assists, 12 + 5 in the last period, an unexpected reliability for the shot of three that he maintained, except on a few occasions, in all the playoffs and a quality that during the rest of the year ere unknown: to play without the ball. It perfectly suited LeBron and He was a fundamental figure when it came to breaking defenses in the zone against the Nuggets or the Heat, being one of the most patient and intelligent players in the league, capable of reading defenses and interpreting plays at all times.
Rondo has had a +/- positive in 10 of the 16 games he has played, has averaged 45.5% in field goals and 40% (!!!) in triples and has gone to almost 9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists, numbers far from his best days … but that he has achieved in less than 25 minutes per game. Has distributed at least 4 assists in all games, has exceeded 5 in 12 of 16 and has achieved up to 105 in all the playoffs as a substitute, surpassing the mark that was held by Manu Ginobili in 2014 (95, in a ring also with a ring). In addition, Rondo is the player who has had to wait the longest between the first and second rings in history; Earl Cureton previously triumphed with the Sixers in the 1982-83 season and repeated the Rockets in the 1993-94. Another record for a player who reached 16 points and 10 assists in the second game of the Finals and left at 19 (4 rebounds and 4 assists) in the sixth and final round, to which he went without failures in the shot at halftime, finishing with 8 of 11 in field goals and 3 of 4 in triples. He is no longer the player who appeared in the best quintets or was up to three times the maximum assistant, in addition to being an All Star regular for four consecutive years. But he is essential in the game scheme of a competitive team and always brings out his skills when push comes to shove, when wrists tremble and pulse quickens.
On the way to 35, Rondo has come out of his player option and will try to find a bigger contract next season. Presumably and barring surprise, the Lakers will be his first choice: LeBron wants him there, you are comfortable in Los Angeles and immersed in a project that, if you take the right steps, can continue to qualify for the ring. In addition, he has proven to be a reliable player in the playoffs (which is why he will ask for more money), so the interest can be mutual and the agreement fruitful. If LeBron continues to act as a base, his stay on the court can be made compatible with Rondo or Caruso indistinctly (and depending on the rival or moment of the game) and if the dressing room continues to mix veterans and young people and gets another shooter it can be really fearsome. It only remains to know if Rondo will extend his adventure alongside the Rey, that man who was Boston’s arch enemy a few years ago. For now, we know that the celtic pride from the point guard has impregnated the eternal rival and has given him a necessary spark to win a ring that, in the worst year in history, tastes of glory. Playoff Rondo is crowned in the Lakers. Anyone would have said it ten years ago. Although ten years ago, it was difficult to predict that the Angelenos were going to be a decade without winning, that LeBron was going to become who he is and that the Celtics would not have the ring so close again. Virtually everything is impossible to predict in this life except, maybe (just maybe), one thing: that, in the moment of truth, Rajon Rondo is going to be there. And that is something that, you know, cannot be said about everyone.