The Other Rajon Rondo

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The Other Rajon Rondo

Two kids with the same name, living in the same city. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.

Last night, before Game 4 of the NBA Finals by the way, I checked out at halftime. Im assuming that OKC won? Great! Lets go with that Rajon Rondo made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmels pregame show. However, he wasnt in the studio. Instead, Rondo was at home in front of his computer, ready to play the NBA Edition of Skype Scavenger Hunt.

Now there are a few interesting takeaways from Rondo's appearance. First, that he just moved into a new house complete with a chair borrowed from Joffrey Baratheon. That tells you a little something about his comfort level in Boston, right? Obviously, we don't know if he bought or if he's renting, but either way, it doesn't make sense to move your family into a new pad unless you plan on staying there for a while. And for the first time in a long time maybe ever? we get the sense that Rondo's finally confident enough to call Boston home.

Second, Kimmel's initial challenge: "Bring back the last thing that you read!" could not have been more perfect. At least from the Celtics fans' perspective.

We've spent the last six years trying to piece Rondo together like the world's most complicated jigsaw puzzle. We've grown obsessed with figuring out who he really is and what really makes him tick. Over and over, we've heard about how he's one of the smartest players in the league, and of course, we can also see that ourselves, but the more coaches, teammates, analysts and opponents mention it, the more intriguing and impressive that intelligence becomes. It makes us want more.

What's the last thing Rondo read?

Damn straight we want to know the last thing he read!

As Rondo searched around his new house, a couple options ran through my mind. I was secretly hoping for something like the Art of War by Sun Tzu or a biography of Winston Churchill. I dreaded the possibility of him making a joke of the whole thing and bringing back something about Red Bull or a magazine with himself on the cover. But deep down, I knew he wouldn't disappoint. And he didn't.

The answer: The Other Wes Moore.

Two kids with the same name, living in the same city. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison for felony murder. Here is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation.

It wasn't cliche as opposed the two books I mentioned. Nothing felt contrived or insincere as if he was digging through a box of random books in his bedroom thinking, "Hmm, what will impress everyone the most?" Instead, it was just a random (albeit a former New York Times Best Seller), deep and philosophical non-fiction story about two very different guys with the same name.

And that was fitting, because the whole appearance showed us a very different Rajon Rondo.

Last night, he carried himself in a way that we never could have imagined, even as recently as a year ago. After all, this is a guy who's spent the better part of the last six seasons walking around like he's about to go in for a colonoscopy. He's been cold, short, snippy and unapproachable.

Yet here he was: On live TV (although, it was National TV which could help explain the performance). Unscripted. Out of his element.

And he was entirely comfortable.

He was funny, friendly, humble, self-deprecating straight goofy! There was no chip on his shoulder, no bone to pick with anyone. He was more real in these 4:58 seconds than he's been in any 4:58 since being drafted by the Celtics. At least on a stage that's visible to someone other than his family and teammates.

Maybe it took forcing him out of his element and away from the media to bring out this side him, but in my opinion, it's just another sign of how much he's grown.

I mean, it's easy to still look at Rondo like a baby compared to his Hall of Fame teammates, but the truth is that he is growing up. He'll be 27 next season. He's no longer a kid. And that's become evident in every aspect of his public life: The way the Big 3 finally began deferring to him down the stretch last season. The way he carried himself on the podium after games. The fact that he even agreed to go on Jimmy Kimmel in the first place.

Let's face it: Part of growing up is becoming more comfortable in who you are. In your own personality. So while it's been easy to just write Rondo off as a miserable curmudgeon, I think there's also a very real possibility that he's spent the last chunk of years doing what most of us do (or did) in our 20s. Figuring stuff out. Learning about and growing comfortable with who he really is. The only difference is that he's done it on the biggest stage imaginable. In the face of millions of mean-spirited people who would love nothing more than to bring him down and who are ready to jump on anything he has to say. It's hard enough growing up normal, I can't imagine what it would be like to do so under that spotlight, especially for someone as aware and cerebral as Rondo.

But he is growing up. He has grown up. You get the sense that he's ready to be Rondo, and that the puzzle's starting to come together.

That doesn't mean that he'll be all smiles, because being Rondo still means being moody and snapping at stupid questions, and Lord know those stupid questions aren't going anywhere.

But there's finally reason to believe that that's not all he'll give us.

That there will be more honesty, more personality and who knows, maybe even a book club.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

How the 1956 draft changed the Celtics franchise

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How the 1956 draft changed the Celtics franchise

We take a look at how the 1956 Boston Celtics draft landed them three All-Stars and changed the franchise forever.

Avery Bradley elected to NBA All-Defensive First Team

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Avery Bradley elected to NBA All-Defensive First Team

BOSTON -- It seems that while Avery Bradley comes back every season with something new that he’s added to his game offensively, his defense has always been solid.

But this past year, Bradley, 26, was more committed to being not just a great on-the-ball defender, but also to expanding his game at that end of the floor to be a better help defender, too.

Bradley’s efforts didn't go unnoticed. The NBA announced Wednesday that he was among the players named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team.

It was Bradley's first time being named to the first team. His only other all-league recognition defensively came in 2013, when he was named to the league's second unit.

Bradley's play certainly was pivotal in his selection. But it didn't hurt that Portland's C.J. McCollum praised Bradley via social media as the best perimeter defender in the NBA.

"I don't think it's close," tweeted McCollum. 

San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard was the lone unanimous choice on the first team. In addition to Leonard and Bradley, the first team also included Golden State’s Draymond Green, Los Angeles Clippers big man DeAndre Jordan, and Jordan’s teammate Chris Paul.

Of the first-team players, Bradley was third in total points (149), which included 62 first-team votes and 25 second-team votes. The only players with more first-team votes were Leonard (130) and Green (123).

Players were awarded two points for a first-team vote and one point for a second-team vote.

The All-NBA Defensive Second team included Paul Millsap of Atlanta, Paul George of Indiana, Hassan Whiteside of Miami, ex-Celtic and current Memphis Grizzlies guard Tony Allen and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler.

Bradley wasn’t the only Celtic to receive some all-Defensive love from voters. Jae Crowder had a total of 47 points, which included 3 first-team votes. His 47 points were the third-highest among players not named to the first or second team.  Also, Celtics guard Marcus Smart received seven points which included 2 first-team votes.

Olynyk: Tough call to have surgery, but it was right thing to do

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Olynyk: Tough call to have surgery, but it was right thing to do

BOXFORD, Mass. -- It was just last week that Kelly Olynyk underwent right shoulder surgery that will keep him from playing for the Canadian National Team this summer in their quest for an Olympics berth in Rio, as well as have him sidelined until sometime in October. 

And yet there was the Celtics center on Wednesday with his right arm in a sling, chatting it up with kids at Spofford Pond School as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab during an unveiling ceremony, courtesy of the Celts and National Grid.

The C's and National Grid purchased 25 Chromebooks, 13 Samsung Galaxy Tablets and a 65-inch Samsung Smart TV as well as other high-tech, education-related items.

“I love the opportunity to come out, give back to the community,” said Olynyk who was also joined by former Celtic Leon Powe and Terry Sobolewski, the Chief Customer Officer for National Grid Massachusetts. “I’ve been sitting in my living room the last eight days, looking at the same four walls.”

And for Olynyk, the days of going stir crazy won’t end anytime soon.

The 7-footer had surgery on May 16, the day after he told CSNNE.com that if he elected to have surgery he would be sidelined for five months.

On Wednesday, Olynyk reiterated that the timeline for him to resume full contact had not changed.

Olynyk told CSNNE.com earlier that the surgery was “inevitable,” but that didn’t make it any easier.

“Probably the hardest decision of my life,” Olynyk said. “As far as weighing the national team, the opportunity to play in the Olympics. I played with Team Canada the last eight years, waiting for this opportunity, waiting for this day to come where we’d be on this stage, have this before us. But with the Celtics . . . talking to a bunch of people, it was inevitable that I was going to need surgery.”

Among the biggest concerns for Olynyk was the possibility of playing with Team Canada and suffering another right shoulder injury that would require surgery and potentially lead to him missing the start of the season.

By having the surgery last week Olynyk is expected to resume practicing with the Celts in the middle of October, which would give him a couple weeks of having been cleared before the season starts.

“I couldn’t miss next year,” said Olynyk who added that the decision to have the surgery was his and did not involve the Celtics pressuring him to do so. “We’re moving in the right direction. You want to keep that momentum going. It was a really tough decision. But it was something I needed to do.”

Olynyk said he will be in a sling for at least two weeks, adding that he will be in it for another 10 days or so.

“My guess is you progress, getting that motion back, making sure everything is fine, all that kind of stuff,” he said.

A healthy Olynyk could prove vital to the growth of his game as well as the Celtics’ desire to build off of last season’s 48-win club that made it to the playoffs for the second year in a row but also suffered a second consecutive first-round defeat.

Last season, Olynyk averaged 10.0 points per game and shot a career-best 40.5 percent from 3-point range. A stronger Olynyk could give the Celtics more options in how they want to use him going forward. For the most part, Boston likes to have Olynyk on the floor because of his perimeter shooting, which helps with spacing. But if he’s physically stronger, Boston can look to post him up from time to time as well, which would make him a much more dangerous weapon offensively.

No one anticipates Olynyk will suddenly morph into a dominant, inside-outside scoring threat. But added strength does give him a chance to improve as both a rebounder and defender, two areas in which Olynyk was up and down this past season.

And admittedly he was at his worst during the playoffs, when the Celtics desperately needed someone -- anyone -- to help space the floor as the Hawks packed in the paint, which limited the drives to the basket by Isaiah Thomas.

“(I was) cleared [medically to play], but I wasn’t able to help the team at all. I couldn’t do anything,” Olynyk said. “My arm . . . I couldn’t hold off one of these kids with my arm. Shooting pains, it was giving out. Motions without contact were okay. But once you put any contact on my arm, it was done. So I couldn’t do anything.”

Olynyk is hopeful the surgery will alleviate the issues with the shoulder, which sidelined him for 12 games in addition to limiting his effectiveness in the playoffs.

“[The doctors] tell me [I’m] going to be stronger than [I’ve] ever felt, ever been,” Olynyk said.