The player who allegedly was the source of the Boston Celtics’ deepest friction last season now seems determined to be the spark of deeper togetherness.
Point guard Rajon Rondo, cited as one reason teammate Ray Allen bolted the Celtics for Miami over the summer, was the ringleader of a Boston-in-Los Angeles week, as reported by Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Marc Spears. The feisty playmaker who has been such a love/hate/trade object for basketball boss Danny Ainge took it upon himself to plan what Spears called “a week of bonding.”
One of the first steps was welcoming a couple of new teammates — Jason Terry and Courtney Lee — to Boston’s L.A. retreat.
“I wanted J.T. to play with Kevin [Garnett]. I wanted Courtney to see how Paul [Pierce] likes to play. I wanted Paul and Jeff Green to go at each other,” Rondo told Yahoo! Sports. “I wanted to play with those guys. It was getting guys away from our actual training facility to get a new view.
“I wanted the guys to have fun. When you’re with me I want you to say, ‘Man, I had a good time with Rondo.’ And I think that’s what they did.”
So the Celtics worked out together at UCLA, broke bread and spent free time together (Pierce and Garnett own homes in the area). For five days they hung out, newcomers, rookies and veterans alike – only the most recent signee, Darko Milicic, wasn’t there.
They even crosstrained, Spears wrote.
To add some fun, Rondo also put together a flag football game at UCLA that included referees. Rondo said the only Celtics that didn’t play were Pierce and 7-foot, 255-pound rookie Fab Melo “because he might hurt somebody.” Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, a close friend of Rondo’s, also played.
“My team won,” Rondo said. “We dominated. I had seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. I had a nice kickoff return back. We had fun. K.G. was the quarterback of the other team, but they had to sub him out because he wasn’t getting any touchdowns.”
For all the good fellowship, a lot of focus remains on a player who wasn’t there — Allen, so vital to the Big-Three-Plus-One success for five seasons. A personality clash between the shooting guard and the point guard, both on and off the floor, was said to contribute to Allen’s snub of a fatter free-agent contract offer from Boston. And earlier this month, when Rondo made an appearance on BET’s “106th & Park” show, he blew off a question about Allen by saying, “Oh, that guy.” (more…)