“People can use all the Rondo stuff – and it was there, no doubt about that – but it was me more than Rondo,” said Rivers, who is working as an NBC analyst during the Olympics. “I’m the guy who gave Rondo the ball. I’m the guy who decided that Rondo needed to be more of the leader of the team. That doesn’t mean guys liked that – and Ray did not love that – because Rondo now had the ball all the time.
“Think about everything [Allen] said when he left, ‘I want to be more of a part of the offense.’ Everything was back at Rondo. And I look at that, and say, ‘That’s not Rondo’s fault.’ That’s what I wanted Rondo to do, and that’s what Rondo should’ve done. Because that’s Rondo’s ability. He’s the best passer in the league. He has the best feel in the league. He’s not a great shooter, so he needs the ball in his hands to be effective. And that bothered Ray.
“And not starting [games] bothered Ray. I did examine it, and the conclusion I came back to was this: By doing the right things, we may have lost Ray. If I hadn’t done that, I would’ve been a hypocrite. In the opening speech I make every year, I tell the team: ‘Every decision I make is going to be what’s good for the team, and it may not be what’s good for the individual.’”
Doc is doing what a good coach does…. take the blame.
Ray is pissed at Rondo? Well, Rondo was just following orders, and I give the orders.
The only thing about this is that it comes a few weeks late (side note: It hasn’t even been a month yet since this all went down… but it feels like it happened months ago). Still, Doc is doing the right thing. He’s sticking by his current players, taking the blame for a potentially disruptive element of the offseason, and moving on.
But to be clear on this… Rondo isn’t the only reason Ray was pissed. He hated being mentioned in trade talks. He didn’t want to come off the bench. And the Rondo thing… just the cherry on top of a shit sundae for Ray by the end of his time in Boston.
The sad thing for Ray is that we all thought he was a little different than that. I understand where he’s coming from, but trades are part of the business. Hell, Ray’s been traded twice. He knows that’s the case. He also knows he had an expiring contract and a desirable skill set. If the C’s weren’t shopping him at a point last season when the team was struggling, he should certainly understand that the NBA vultures would try to swoop in on a struggling team and try to pluck away a great asset like Ray Allen.
But it bugged him. Maybe his NBA mortality is making him increasingly sensitive to these things. The hardest thing for an athlete to accept is that he physically can’t do “it” anymore. In their heads, they’re always that 25-year-old kid who can rely on the physical tools to be called upon at will. The slow realization that it takes a couple of more picks to get open… or that the dribble drives result in more turnovers than they used to… or that the guy you’re defending is getting by you a lot more often… is a major blow to the ego. And for guys who are as proud as Ray Allen, that sometimes manifests itself as outward anger.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see Ray say in an interview down the road that his anger towards the Celtics was as much about being angry about his own decline as it was anger about the situation with the Celtics. It will have to be way down the road, though, because that pride needs to subside before he can admit something like that.
Rondo can be a pain in the ass. We know that. But the other guys on the team have accepted that he’s the leader on the floor. I’m sure Rondo can handle certain things what we’ll never hear about in a better way because we know how stubborn he can be. That’s why Doc’s mediated things between the two of them.
But Ray chose a different path. That’s his choice. And Doc is choosing, quite wisely, to absorb whatever hit there might exist in the wake of this, defend his team as strongly as they defend opponents on the floor, and move forward towards what the Celtics, and we, hope will be a chance to spoil Ray’s title hopes in Miami.