Jackie MacMullan: “Rondo reminds me a lot of Larry Bird” | Red's Army - The Voice of Boston Celtics Fans
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Jackie MacMullan: “Rondo reminds me a lot of Larry Bird”

"Rondo, quite frankly, I'm talking personality now, Rondo reminds me a lot of Larry Bird.  Larry could be very moody.  Some days he'd be hilarious with us… engaging with us… but other days he just kept to himself. Larry never liked big crowds.  Whenever there was a big hoard of media around you could see him stiffen, you could see his back tighten up.  I saw the same thing with Rondo today.  When he came out of the locker room to meet the media, there were just three or four and he was ok, and then the minute the swarms you could see him tighten up.  So I'm not going to beat him up too much for that.  But listen.. he needs to be disciplined, he needs to have control of himself. and I think he knows that.  And I think if he does that, it's hard to argue too much with the results."

ESPN Boston Radio (5:30 mark)

I love Larry Bird.  LOVE him.  The man did indescribable things an unbelievable amount of times.  He is, as I like to say, in the Hall of Fame's Hall of Fame.  But I'm sure if you talked to some of the people who stood next to Jackie MacMullan when she covered Larry, they'd use some stronger words than "moody."   Hell, she might too if you caught her after a couple of beers at The Fours.

Which makes me so happy that Twitter didn't exist back then.  Because as much as I'm addicted to Twitter (seriously, I have a problem), I hate it for allowing overreactions to spread like wildfire.  I shudder to think at how Larry Bird would have been treated in the social media space. 

Now, I should clarify. like Jackie, that I'm also just talking about Rondo's demeanor.  I'm in no way trying to compare the players (which is impossible anyway) or their impact on the franchise (which is WAY too soon in Rondo's case) or anything other than how they carry themselves.  And sometimes, Rondo carries himself in a way that is… oh… let's go ahead and call it "word stronger than moody."

So today, when Paul Flannery was talking to Rondo about coming off the suspension and this exchange happened…

Question: Do you feel like you let your teammates down?

Rondo: No. Do you feel like I let them down?

Question: Do you have anything to prove?

Rondo: I don’t have anything to prove. Why would I have anything to prove? I just want to win. That’s it. I’m confused why you guys would think I have anything to prove. It’s a game I’ve been playing my entire life. The world knows what I can do. I’m just going to out do and play and do what I do best and be the best point guard in the NBA.

… I could see the reactions about Rondo's attitude ranging from confusion to frustration.  Especially when we caught a glimpse of Rondo's actual maturity and contrition after Game 2.  But the simple fact is the Rajon Rondo you, I and the media see is rarely the Rondo Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen see.  Media Rondo can be a bit of a prick.  And maybe locker room Rondo can be too, but he's doing it fun with the rest of the guys who can probably be real pricks too. (here's a tip: All these guys are.  Even the nice guys. Locker rooms are that way.) 

My point here is not to defend Rondo and say "hey you guys, stop being mean!"  My point is that some of our heroes were the same way.  Some of the guys we hold in the highest regard were also sometimes petulant or publicly douchey.  Rondo, despite some arguments, isn't all that different than the guys some people say he "should be more like."

Doc Rivers says it all the time.  We're watching Rondo grow up in front of our eyes.  He's growing up under the white-hot spotlight of the most storied franchise in his sport.  That spotlight, unfortunately for him, also shows us all his warts.  And Twitter lets us blast his complexion, in real time, every time a new wart pops up.  So even if Larry had a lot of the same warts… the lighting in this town was a lot better in the 80's.

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  • I don`t care what the context is.
    The mere mention of Rondo`s name in the same sentence as Bird`s…is just “wrong”, and extremely unsettling.

  • you don’t care what the context is?
    How very open minded of you.

  • RyanH

    I’ve always thought they were similar in personality. Both southern, (I count Indiana, one of the more country states), both quiet, both reckless competitors, both dicks to their competition.

  • Larry Joe Bird walks on water.

  • So Bird was moody and Rondo is moody, therefore there’s some connection? I’m a little surprised Jackie Mac tossed Bird’s name out there like that. She knows the reaction she’ll get.

  • I don’t understand why people want to get in the guy’s head and critique his personality. I just want to watch him play basketball because he’s a good player. As long as he’s not a serial killer (s/o to Bob Cousy) or Kobe, I don’t care about his ‘moods’ or ‘attitude’. He likes his team; his team likes him. So do I.

  • CoachBo

    Remind me again. How many games did Bird lose to suspension for throwing a ball at an official? For bumping an official?
    These blogs crack me up. If Rondo burned down a convent, some of you would be lining up to claim that the nuns had it coming.
    In the meantime, let’s not confuse the two players. Bird had enough respect for the game to carry himself like a pro. We’ve seen how much trouble Rondo has with professionalism.
    Massive apples to oranges fail from Jackie.

  • CoachBo

    Massive, massive, MASSIVE reach here by the Rondo Spin Machine. See below. The comparison is laughable.

  • You mean an irrational one where people don’t understand the difference between comparing two personalities and comparing two players on the court?
    Yeah, I’m sure she’s aware of that possibility

  • CoachBo

    Nice reach by you, too, taking a media column and turning it into yet another Rondo infallability column.
    You might as well make Paul a staff writer.

  • I don’t know how you get “Rondo infallability” out of that piece. It fully acknowledges his warts and need to grow up. It merely points out that the current spotlight on him is much brighter and that our past heroes had some of the similar personality traits that people bash Rondo for.
    Heaven forbid that words are written about Rondo that don’t condemn him to hell for making some pretty stupid mistakes.

  • And for those of you who think Larry never lost his cool
    It happens to everyone. If Larry and J did this today, they’d both be tossed for a week.

  • KY Celts fan

    just as paul is irrational in his defense of Rondo, you are irrational in your criticisms. the ironic thing is, you have both claimed TODAY to know better than Jackie Mac, yet from different sides of the coin.
    Larry Legend played in a different time. I don’t recall a time when he got suspended. That’s mostly because I was born in 1986 and so missed the entire era. However, we all know he laid hands on other players. He got into several scrums which would cause suspension today. So it’s silly to say Larry always conducted himself as the utmost professional.
    This is a piece that exclusively talks about their personalities, and she’s very clear to make the distinction. And as a reporter whose been around the Celtics for 30 years, seeing both first hand, I would think she knows what she’s talking about.
    you and paul both need to take a serious self evaluation.

  • KY Celts fan

    as a Southerner, I find this comment horribly offensive. Indiana is NOT the South. It is mid-West. 🙂

  • KY Celts fan

    this is exactly what was talking about in the above statement.

  • “the ironic thing is, you have both claimed TODAY to know better than Jackie Mac”
    Just brilliant. Jackie MacMullan is a legend who has covered both of these guys first hand and knows better than any of us. Yet people are dismissing it because it doesn’t fit their pre-determined notions of who Rondo is.
    Great comment. Thanks

  • mollysdaddy

    The things players in the 80’s did would warrant double digit suspensions today. Bird/Dr J, McHale/Rambis, Parrish/Laimbeer…on and on. I think it’s spot on to say that if the level of social media today was around in the 80’s our heroes would not seem as heroic. Didi, you hit it right on the head, I love watching Rondo and this team play, just as I loved watching Bird and his teams play. I really don’t give a crap about the interviews, the occasional in game transgressions or any of the other crap.

  • KY Celts fan

    great minds think alike.

  • Alex

    Red’s Army, you guys really need to take some action against some of your commenters, especially Paul and Coach Bo. These idiots are the cancer on your comments section, they don’t contribute anything good except hatrid (CoachBo) or stalker lover (Paul).
    Paul spews Rondo Love and bites at anyone who criticizes anything that Rondo does. While CoachBo goes on and on about his hatred toward Rondo without giving the kid props.
    Something to consider and watch.

  • we try to let people voice their opinions and let the community do the policing. But if it gets too personal, vulgar, or way out of control, we’ll step in

  • “Larry Bird is the most self-motivated athlete I`ve ever seen”—Red Auerbach
    Rondo does not have the motivation to learn to shoot FT`s in the off-season.

  • KY Celts fan

    Two words: Mark Price.

  • Brick James

    Well said guys, thanks for sharing.

  • CelticsMom

    KY is not the south, either.

  • James Eisenman

    I was the ultimate Bird fan and this is too simplistic a comparison. Bird was unsophisticated and uncomfortable with the press. He was the ultimate competitor. He didn’t like airing his thoughts publicly.he just wanted to play the game and not be bothered. Rondo doesn’t think he has to explain himself to anyone. He just doesn’t believe any reporter has the right to question his talent or maturity. There’s a difference.

  • Evelyn Roak

    Jeez. Your broad, blinded reaction is just as simple-minded and willfully ignorant and oblivious to the facts as that which you accuse.

  • Danno

    I would have been more apt to see this as just a comparison of personalities, you Jackie other, more pertinent comments about Rondo’s ability to affect the game negatively from her weekly call into WEEI were also included. I get what you’re trying to do here, but this is cherry picking at it’s best. Jackie all but said that the Celtics would be better off WITHOUT Rondo after being suspended, because he will be so fired up, he’ll likely try to do too much and take the rest of the team out of the game, as we’ve already seen numerous times this year.
    But what she’s getting at here in your quoted comments isn’t wrong. He is Moody, and so was Bird. The comparison ends there, however.
    The difference being, Bird had the ability to channel his moodiness into greatness. Rondo tends to channel his into fake tough guy/team killing selfishness.

  • One word : Refund
    Rondo still can`t make even 60% of his FT`s

  • aaron

    great point and true

  • aaron

    paul would drop to his knees if he saw rondo in person.
    bird= world class, top 5 all time
    rondo=top 25 player in a decade
    personality wise, maybe…but bird did it with class. rondo THINKS he is at a magic/oscar/cousy/isiah level….and he’s just….NOT….sorry bud. you arent even the best PG in the League. not even in top 3.

  • paul

    Lol. My God, southern indiana is SOOOOO SOUTH!!!
    But yeah, northern indiana is midwest

  • paul

    lol – yeah, i should be

  • paul

    Bird got into a bar fight that wrecked his team’s chances for a championship. Ask Maxwell. That was a bigger asshole moment than anything Rondo has done so far. A frickin bar fight. You want idiot, that’s idiot for you.

  • paul

    Thanks, KY. You are so right. I’m so wrong.
    Unless I’m right.

  • paul

    Rondo comes back each season with a majorly improved game. I don’t recall seeing a player improve so much every darn year. Heinsohn commented on this, saying that Rondo will have a full bag of offensive moves by the time he hits his peak, or words to that effect. Rondo clearly works on all aspects of his game. Eventually, that FT average will go up dramatically. Let’s hope it’s in these playoffs. That’s the way shooting is. It’s an art, and it’s like a trip gets switch, if you keep working at it, that takes you to the next level.

  • paul

    laughable, but sick. Yeah, Bird is god, Rondo is a punky disco dancer. Feel better now?

  • NorthernGreen

    You guys need to relax! My mother always said that if you couldn’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all. I wish you would think about that before posting. We don’t want to hear it!!!

  • paul

    There is always room in the sports community for homophobia, isn’t there?

  • pau

    I don’t know if we will win tonight. I don’t know if Rondo will try to do too much tonight, or if he will have one of his best games ever, or fall on his face. The future is unknown.
    And that brings us to an important point about the comparison between Rondo and Bird. Comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges, not in terms of talent – clearly, Rondo IS on that talent level, and the fact that you all deny it shows how hate filled and delusional you really are – but in terms of where they are at in their careers. When we talk about Bird, we talk about someone whose career is over and whose accomplishments are enshrined. When we talk about Rondo, we are talking about someone who has already built up a significant resume, but whose career is still very much in its rising arc. Rondo’s achievements are incomplete. His potential remains potential. How far he will go is in the realm of the unknown.
    What complicates this further is that Bird’s career arc was different, in that he came to the league as a player who was much closer to his peak form than Rondo did. Rondo came to the league as a raw and unfinished player in many ways. He is still forming before our eyes.
    But the talent level is obviously comparable. It’s flat out silly to continue to deny this, as the media, and the groupthinking blog commentors continue to do. I mean I expect this crap from Dunno and ‘Coach’ Bo, but really folks, the rest of you need to wake up. Yes, Rondo could crash and burn, but if he doesn’t, an extraordinary career has been unfolding before your eyes and all you do is bitch about it, and declare DON’T DARE EVER COMPARE THIS DISCO PUNK TO THE SACRED BIRD!!
    I love Bird. I remember when he first came to the league, what a revelation he was. He was the best player I ever saw. Rondo clearly is, potentially, in the same league. In particular, what they most have in common is the way they see not only the whole floor unlike any other player, but in the way they see several moves ahead of anyone else. You could see it in the way Bird played that he wasn’t just playing that moment. He was playing that moment and several moments ahead at the same time. It’s something like an ability to read patterns, or fold time.
    Yeah, go ahead and mock someone who talks about aspects of the game that perhaps you consider rubbish. It’s not rubbish. It’s very real. But if you don’t see, well, you just don’t. Retreat to your group think, and have another beer.
    Or whatever.
    I just hope we win tonight. Rondo swaggered some quiet but very powerful swagger yesterday. The comment about being the best pg will be haunting Jeff Teague’s dreams, and the comment about the series being over is plastered all over the inside of that Hawks team’s mind. Man, Rondo is going to have to walk the walk tonight, or you haters will have a true field day. PARTY AT BO’S!!!!
    Unless Rondo walks the walk…

  • James Eisenman

    Paul, you clearly are the biggest, most gas-filled bag of wind I’ve ever seen. For someobe who knows nothing, you write alot. Everything you say is idiotic. Rondo has not improved in any off-season. He still can’t shoot free throws, he’s still an inconsistent mid-range shooter, he still walks the ball up the court too much and his defense has actually gotten MUCH WORSE EVERY YEAR! Your assertion that he is on the level of Larry Bird is just too embarassing to even comment on. Idiotic.

  • KY Celts fan

    be careful. thems fightin’ words.

  • How in the world can you say Rondo “just doesn’t believe any reporter has the right to question his talent or maturity” as a statement of fact when you don’t even know Rondo personally?? That’s a hell of a reach who someone who only sees the guy talk on TV

  • Rondo is on the “same talent level” as Bird?
    That is true…but, only because Bird is an out-of-shape, 55 years old man, who suffers from heart disease…while Rondo is a mere 26 year old in the prime of his life!

  • PutRajonRondointhehall

    i agree 100% I go by what I see and what i see is complete big time playoff baller and competitor.
    Lets start another argument. Rondo’s passing is on par with Larrys.
    the kid can play, shut the fuck up and deal with it. If you really want, we can get Sebastian Telfair back and run the point.

  • PutRajonRondointhehall

    The nba wasn’t a pussified league like it is now.
    YEA Larry was a real angel. Get your head out of your ass.
    Google or youtube Larry Bird fights. He would have been tossed and suspended now without a question.
    I don’t get it.

  • PutRajonRondointhehall

    what is wrong with you assholes?
    Can’t you enjoy the playoff run with the Current team?
    Larry was great! Now he 60 lbs over weight and running the pacers. He left it in the pass and so should you.

  • PutRajonRondointhehall

    Nope Old man Eisenman knows Rondo like noone else.
    More than KG, more than Doc, more than Jackie.
    Bird ain’t walking on the court tonight by the way.

  • James Eisenman

    Well, we can all pretend that we can’t tell the guy’s personality from his attitude and actions, can’t we? I don’t personally know Larry Bird or Rajon Rondo. And neither do you. So, how does anyone know enough to comment on what Jackie MacMullan thinks? But I can tell by Rondo’s attitude on the court. I can tell by Rondo’s attitude with the press. I can tell because Rondo smashed a television set at the end of last season when the ooaches were trying to talk to him. I can tell by what Doc says about Rondo. He thinks he knows more than the coaches do. He’s stubborn. He has been reported to be upset when he doesn’t get the same credit as the Big Three. When Larry was interviewed, you could just see the discomfort in his expressions and the awkwardness of how he spoke. Rondo sits there with that look of disdain on his face and says to the reporter that he doesn’t have to prove anything to his teammates for his bad behavior. He doesn’t apologize for throwing the ball at a ref or chest bumping another one. He excuses it. That’s what I base my analysis on. I just don’t believe that Rondo has the same warts as Larry. And that the comparison is simplistic and ignores the immense difference in their personalities.

  • James Eisenman

    I do know Rondo like no one else. In fact, I am Rondo. I actually am quite articulate in writing but I have this self-hate issue. In public, I’m shy and don’t like to talk about it. But in the anonymity of the internet, I pretend to be a 59-year old former basketball player from California who has followed the Celtics since the days of Russell, so that I can pretend to have the old man gravitas to legitimately criticize myself. Ooh, I play terrible defense and I am a petulant asshole. That feels so good. Ahhhh!