Former Celtics beat writer and current Yahoo columnist Marc Spears has a great piece on the Celtics' pre-camp camp that Rondo organized out in LA. Rondo was criticized early in the off-season when reports came out that Ray Allen was leaving because, among other things, he and Rondo didn't get along. Rondo addressed those rumors and rightfully concludes that Ray had his reasons for leaving, but it wasn't his fault.
"People act like because me and Ray didn't get along or they think me and Ray didn't get along that I'm a bad person or he's a bad person," Rondo said. "No. It's just life. If you look at your job, everyone doesn't always get along with every co-worker they work with. It's just part of life. People are blowing the Ray thing out of proportion. We had some words, but other than that it was no big deal.
"There were so many rumors like I was looking Ray off. Why would I look Ray off? That doesn't make sense. He's the best shooter, so why would I look him off? People can see it how they want to. They can talk to Ray. But from my standpoint, he made his decision. I don't know why he made the decision, but he made the decision. I don't think it had anything to do with me."
And, we have found out since that Ray was unhappy with his role on the team, with having to come off the bench, with KG, with not getting to run pick and rolls, with not being the first priority in signing contracts this offseason, with being offered in trade talks, and probably with the food in Boston and who knows what else. He just wasn't a happy person in Boston and Rondo is right, it didn't have anything to do with him. It was Ray, pure and simple.
Now back to last week when Rondo organized a week for all of his teammates in Los Angeles which included scrimmagesat UCLA, lunch together at Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles, social time at the homes of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett and even a flag football game complete with referees. Every teammate except the newly signed Darko Milicic was in attendance at the workouts.
Rondo wanted the team, which includes 9 new faces this season along with Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox who were out last season for heart surgery, to bond and get to know each other before they left for Turkey.
"I wanted J.T. to play with Kevin. I wanted Courtney to see how Paul 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.
"The game is about tempo," Rondo said. "We don't want to make it more complicated. It's just basketball. I am just trying to get the timing with J.T. and Courtney. That is why I wanted to get to work early, so I can know where I want them to be when I drive baseline or drive to the middle and where they like the ball."
Rondo had good things to say about Courtney Lee's athleticism and Jason Terry's high basketball IQ. Other than Paul Pierce, Rondo has been on the team the longest and has gained his coach's confidence. He is backing up his words from the interview he gave in France earlier this year at the Nike Basketball Festival. In that article he had this to say about becoming a leader on the team. (translated from French)
I have gained lots of confidence in myself over two years. I have gained in maturity, my game has evolved a lot and my teammates listen to me and it helps.
I did not choose that I wanted to be a leader or not. I must be one for my team. Every day, I get up telling myself I want to be better. I worked hard to get to this point and I continue to work hard.
And as for the flag football game, an interesting tidbit is that along with the Celtics, Atlanta Hawks forward, Josh Smith also participated. Of course Smith and Rondo have been friends since they went to high school together so we can't read TOO much into it. But there are a lot of rumors out there about Smith becoming a Celtic in the future. Paul Pierce didn't play flag football, probably because he didn't want to risk injuring the knee that is hopefully almost healed by now. And the 7 foot and 255 lb Fab Melo also sat out the game because, as Rondo put it, "he might hurt somebody." And, of course, the ever competitive Rondo's team won the game.
"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."