He's an honors student that brings home C's every few weeks.
He's a classical pianists who sometimes bangs out out-of-tune Billy Joel songs at dueling-piano bars.
He's an Oscar caliber actor who randomly shows up dead-panning soap opera lines.
Rajon Rondo is a virtuoso on the basketball court. So silky smooth as he destroys opposing defenses. So ridiculously quick as the glides to the rim. So viciously menacing as he locks down on defense.
That is, when he decides to do all of that stuff. And that's why Celtics fans are starting to choose sides over our point guard.
"He's the key to this team."
"He can't handle his huge contract."
"He can single-handedly win games for the Celtics."
"He can't even get into the fourth quarter against the Magic."
Right now… everybody's right.
Eddie House got a bulk of the fourth quarter minutes last night, and the Celtics played better during that stretch than they did with Rondo on the floor. And while I love Eddie House, there's no way he should be better than Rajon Rondo in any game. Especially on the defensive end.
"Today, Rajon just didn't play well," said Rivers. "And Eddie –
there's no conspiracy here. Eddie had it going, defensively he was
good. And when Eddie plays good defense, it allows him to stay on the
floor. So, he spaced the floor, he did his job."
Meanwhile, Rajon was pulling the moves that frustrate so many of us. He was tentative offensively. He was standing around defensively. He let Jason Williams, a guy who was -this- close to being out of the league, blow right past him because he gambled for a steal.
So the question, put as plainly as I can put it, is "What's it gonna be, Rajon?" Are you going to be the guy who just takes plays, quarters, or games off? Are you going to be aggressive until a big shot blocker shows up and tosses your stuff into the third row… and then go into a shell from then on? Or are you going to reach that next level and bring it on a nightly basis? Are you going to be the guy that destroys the point of attack… and who finds passing lanes where none seemed to exist?
Because now that Rondo has signed the $55 million deal, that's what we expect. Fans are funny that way. Rondo's flaws were overlooked when he was the $3 million player because, at that money, the good stuff was beyond worth it. But at more than $10 million per for the next five seasons… we now expect a lot more… even though he's still the same guy he was three weeks ago.
Think of it as leasing a car. The payments for the first few years were nothing… so the things that might have gone wrong with it didn't bother you because it was, overall, a good car that you got cheap. But suddenly, when the payment balloons, you're pissed off at every little knock and stall. Same car, same problems, different attitude.
The difference with Rondo is that he's still young and learning. The new barbs that come with new expectations are… well… new. Rondo's next step is understanding that the expectations of him have changed. We're watching him more closely. Nights off are magnified. Mistakes look worse. It's not that we expect great games every night. We just expect great effort.
Because the people who say Rajon Rondo is a premier point guard that can make the Celtics unstoppable are right. But the problem right now is that that people who say he's too inconsistent to do that are also right.
Only Rondo can settle this dispute.
So… what's it gonna be Rajon?
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