There’s a reason why many NBA executives hesitate when they’re asked if Rajon Rondo is the point guard they’d trust holding their franchise in his hands.
It’s not about his ability to slash, drive and get to the rim to finish. It’s not about those quick hands that can disrupt plays. It’s not even about his streaky jump shot.
It’s all about Rondo’s personality, his composure.
Everybody wants their front line players to battle and scrap. But no one needs them crossing a line and picking fights that could be costly in the standings.
Rondo already missed the second half of Wednesday’s loss to the Nets and now with the struggling Celtics a game over .500 (8-7), he’ll miss the next two games after getting suspended by the league for fighting with Brooklyn’s Kris Humphries.
The Nets’ Gerald Wallace was fined $35,000 and Boston’s Kevin Garnett $25,000 for escalating the fight.
Rondo will sit out Friday night when the Trail Blazers visit Boston and Saturday’s game in Milwaukee.
According to ESPNBoston.com, Rondo did not seem to regret his action when he spoke to the media at Thursday’s practice, prior to the announcement of the suspension:
“I know I have to be out there for my teammates,” he said. “That’s the only thing about it. But I was sticking up for my teammates. I didn’t try to start a fight. I’m not trying to be a bully. I just didn’t think the play was fair that he made on Kevin, that’s all.”
Never mind the lame excuse that the snarling Garnett needs somebody to stand up for his honor. It’s not like this was the first time for Rondo. He was suspended for a game in the playoffs last season when he bumped a referee and was slapped with a two-game suspension for heaving the ball at an official in the 2010-11 season.
As long as he keeps piling up 10- and 20-assist games and triple-doubles, Rondo’s sheer talent will keep him in any conversation about the league’s best point guard.
But when it comes to being The Guy, temperament, composure, just plain cool in the heat of the battle matters.
It’s like the old saying about the lottery: You’ve got to play to win.