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Rajon Rondo’s Game 2 Performance was a microcosm of his time in Dallas: four points, four fouls and one assist in only 10 minutes played.
Pretty disappointing coming from a player that many here in the DFW metroplex felt could be the missing piece to the Mavericks becoming championship contenders again.
Despite being down 2-0 in the best of seven series against the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2014-15 NBA Playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks may have gotten some good news when it was reported that starting point guard Rajon Rondo would be out for the rest of the playoffs with a “back injury.” Addition by subtraction may be the best way to describe losing the mercurial talent who seemed to never adapt to the Mavericks Way after being acquired from the Boston Celtics in December.
It’s easy to now say that the trade was a bad idea — hindsight will forever be 20/20, but can we blame owner Mark Cuban and Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson for making the move? The team was looking for a spark from the point guard position and hoped Rondo was the answer… unfortunately the move altered the efficiency of the team as it loss two key role players in Branden Wright and Jae Crowder and Dallas could never rebound. The team went 31-24 with Rondo on the roster — including 5-4 in the nine games he missed due to injury/suspension and never seemed to be in sync with each other. Off the court, the disinterest of the point guard was evident as Rondo rarely held post-game interviews and when he did, it usually consisted of contrite one-word answers.
Not having much to write about left the media to speculate and the biggest rumor that evolved from his non-communication came when he was spotted eating with L.A. Lakers star Kobe Bryant. While it could have been a harmless “man date” between buddies, the fact that he would not respond to subsequent questions about the meeting led many to insinuate that not only did Rondo plan on taking his talents to Tinsel Town after this season but that the Lakers would welcome him with open arms.
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But there was still a small chance of him returning to the Mavericks next season…
That was until this past Wednesday when head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that he did not foresee Rondo wearing a Maverick jersey anymore after being ruled out for the rest of the playoffs due to the mysterious back ailment.
In the opening game of the series, Rondo showed flashes of what made him a four-time all-star and a key component of the Boston Celtics 2008 championship run; he was operated within the flow of the offense, got others involved (five assists), and even shot the ball well. But something happened in Game 2. He picked up a careless eight-second violation late in the first quarter and that play signified the end of a tumultuous relationship between point guard and coach as it showed he no longer cared anymore.
Teammate Monta Ellis and Cuban spoke with Rondo but the damage was done — he had mentally checked out of the game and there was nothing that could be done to bring him back. Carlisle tried to play him in the second half but he picked up two quick fouls, as well as a technical, and was pulled for the rest of the game. The back injury story later surfaced, but those who watched the game knew differently — the only thing hurt on Rondo was his ego.
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Maybe his next coach will get him to comply with team concepts better than Carlisle and just maybe his new teammates will be able to deal with his unique basketball intellect, but what if they don’t…
At some point Rajon Rondo has to realize that his biggest obstacle in him achieving NBA greatness isn’t a coach who won’t let him freestyle with the ball in his hands or teammates that can’t beat him in Connect 4, but himself — a player so basketball smart that he doesn’t realize his own legacy crippling shortcomings.
Hopefully he learns this lesson soon, because it’s already cost him a lot of money.