Doc Rivers was in LA to watch his son in that Elite 24 game, which included Austin making John Wall look bad. While he was there, the folks at You Been Blinded caught up with him for a short interview.
The thing that stuck out to me was the last question… which was about Rajon Rondo. He was asked whether any of Rajon's past… let's say stubbornness… played into anything that happened with Team USA. Doc's response was interesting.
"I hope not, I don't think it did, I just think Rondo is growing. He's getting better each year, he's maturing each year, I think he's shown improvement on the floor and he just has to keep getting better. He's still so young. You know, Rondo doesn't have the luxury most of us have where we can grow up behind curtains. He has to grow up in front of everybody, and that's tough."
That's a telling statement, to me. We see Rondo as this growing star in the NBA… which he is. But in the end, he's still a 24 year old kid dealing with the pressures of the demands that accompany being that good of a player… especially in a sports crazed town like Boston.
I mean, how many other NBA towns can support not only dozens of media outlets dedicated to covering your team… but about a dozen different blogs with a dozen different takes on every little thing you do?
This is the most scrutinized athletes have ever been. The internet has been great to athletes because it allows them to enhance their "brand" by communicating directly with the fans. But it's also a minefield. Everything they put out on Twitter is dissected and interpreted. 140 characters are split 140 different ways by people like me and published for, combined, millions of people to see. And with mainstream media outlets trolling through blogs as a way to catch some little thing they might have missed… the chances of one of those 140 interpretations getting picked up, and blown up, increases.
So Rajon Rondo isn't just growing up in front of everybody… he's doing it under a white-hot, horribly unforgiving spotlight. Just look at the stuff that was written about him post-Team USA departure. Just google "Rondo Withdraws" and you'll get more than a million results. Do just a blog search on that, and you'll get more than 17,000 results.
17,000 blog results. With 17,000 people looking at that one decision and smashing it like an atom in the Large Hadron Collider. Imagine if ever big decision you made in life was that scrutinized? Can you live with 17,000 people looking at you saying "Bill bought a Toyota… here's 5 reasons why that's a bad decision"…. or "Susan quit her job today… which shows she just doesn't care anymore"?
Hell, look at this post right here. 500 words spun off one sentence uttered by Rondo's coach while he was out watching his son play ball. And I'm sitting here extrapolating what that may or may mean for this 24 year old kid with incomprehensible basketball talent who just happens to wear the laundry that triggers an Endorphin rush in me.
But Doc says these things for a reason. Rondo IS still so young. And Rondo IS growing up in front of everybody. And it's hard to know what to expect out of someone in that situation… and it's hard to really criticize someone for it. Because who knows how I, or any of us, would act if we were in that same situation.