April 20, 2012


On Rajon Rondo, and his status in that unique Boston locker room (Holly MacKenzie, Apr 18, 2012, Yahoo)

[Keyon] Dooling is a 12-year NBA vet who has been in six NBA locker rooms and currently serves as the vice-president of the NBA Players Association. He's been around. He knows what's up.

He knows all about the public perception of Rondo. He also knows how unimportant all of that is to the 15 guys in the Celtics locker room. Dooling praised Rondo's competitiveness and burning desire to be the best, while also using the example of another Hall of Fame point guard known for his toughness and not for his affable personality.

"It's funny because there were a lot of people who didn't necessarily talk before the game. John Stockton was a guy who never talked before the game, never signed autographs or anything like that and he was known as a gentleman and a saint so the spin that Rondo has is definitely a misconception. If you ask the guys in the locker room, I'd tell you that everybody is with him. If I have to go down a dark alley, I want to go down there with him. As a matter of fact, behind him because he's a great leader." [...]

Who Rondo is, besides a freak of nature, of course, has largely been decided by speculation on our part. By piecing together encounters, post game interviews and moments of frustration boiling over, we've created our vision of Rondo, but just like his game, he's much more complex than that.
One thing that isn't up for debate is Rondo's fiery toughness. When you think he's down, done, and out for the count, he wills himself to keep pushing until the final buzzer sounds. Even if the injury that knocked him down has already gone viral, making people feel ill all over the internets by way of disgusting screen grabs and .gifs.

"When your elbow goes this way, I mean, the guy plays through everything," Dooling said, his face scrunching up just speaking of the injury Rondo sustained during the playoffs last season. "One of the biggest adjustments he made to his game this year, something we talked about, is not hitting the floor so much. He would always be on the floor, on the floor, on the floor. I'm like, 'Young fella, how long are you trying to play? You can't be trying to play long because the ground doesn't move.' He's done a great job of staying off of the ground. He's just tough as nails. He's tough as nails."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers was succinct in his description of Rondo's game.

"Spectacular, amazing, great. I could say a lot of things. The most important one would be important. We need him to be that for us to be who we are. He is the one guy who can orchestrate our team."

It's clear that the Celtics locker room is a place where Rondo is free to be himself. Some of that stems from the support of 17-year veteran Garnett, another player known for his intensity and unwillingness to address reporters (and, well, anyone) before games. As Dooling is talking, Garnett is lying on the floor with headphones in and eyes closed as he is being stretched out by a trainer.

From Rondo to Ray Allen to recent stand out Avery Bradley all the way to Doc Rivers ("He's a very unique coach. He's the best coach in our league."), there's just something that feels different about the Celtics locker room. When asked, Dooling responds without hesitation.

"We have Kevin Garnett in it. That makes us more unique than any other team in the world. He is everything you could want in a locker room."

He elaborated on what sets Garnett apart from the rest of the NBA.

"He's incredible. I guarantee you if you did a poll of everybody who has played with Kevin Garnett, I guarantee you he would probably be 98% of people's favorite teammate. He is that guy. He is that guy. He's the glue. If somebody is not going well, he's the guy to pick him up. If there's a problem, He's the one to address it. If somebody needs to be taken up for, he's the one to do that, if there's a question that needs to be asked and somebody doesn't want to ask it, he does that. He is amazing."

The praise continued, as Dooling gave a glimpse into Garnett's standing within his team.

"He is ... he is amazing. I guarantee you if you went around the locker room, everybody who has been around him, ask his former teammates, he is incredible, man. He is an incredible man. He should get awards every year for the man, the mentorship he gives to young guys, the work ethic that he shows them and instills in them. The camaraderie that he gives to the team. You know what I mean? The way he embraces everybody on the staff from the video coordinator to the masseuse. Kevin Garnett should be an ambassador. He is that kind of personality. He is amazing."

With Garnett's blueprint, it's no wonder his 26 year-old phenom point guard is becoming more comfortable in his own skin.

...but he does share one quality with him: he forces everyone on his team to play as hard as he does.
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Posted by at April 20, 2012 10:31 PM

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