Pierce, KG leave blueprint on leadership for Rondo

Pierce, KG leave blueprint on leadership for Rondo
January 28, 2014, 1:00 am
Share This Post

BOSTON — Paul Pierce has been there before.

So has Kevin Garnett.

Each understands what it's like to be the face of a franchise and the challenges that come with leading a team that's rebuilding.

Garnett did it in Minnesota and Pierce endured it here in Boston.

They know this is new terrain for Rondo, the Celtics' Captain who is leading a team with more than twice as many losses (31) as victories (15).

Both have offered words of encouragement throught text messages and conversations. Even though they were crunched for time this weekend, they made a point of having dinner with Rondo Saturday night.

"Talk to him you know, about his situation here and the things we went through when we were in his situation before," Pierce said. "It was good to see him ..."

Rondo had little to say about their conversation.

"It's what I've learned in the past from those guys because obviously they've been here," Rondo said. "Just continue to grow as a person and lead by example."

And that maybe more than anything else, is why Rondo's return to the floor is so vital to not only this team's success but his role as the team's leader.

Leading by words can only take you so far.

At some point, those words need to be put into action which is exactly what Rondo is starting to do a better job of lately.

Sunday's 85-79 loss to Brooklyn was his best game since returning from a torn right ACL injury. Not only was he making his mark as a passer, but he was moving as well as we've seen him this season defensively.

Even as he toyed with a near triple before finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, the end result was yet another loss.

Leading when times are good, is easy.

But the true test of one's leadership skills comes when heat of battle, when things aren't going as well as you would like.

That is becoming a daily crossroads of sorts for Rondo who is doing his best to help lead a relatively young, inexperienced Celtics team through a transition period from being an elite team, to one that's struggling to remain in the playoff picture.

While Rondo's name will continue to surface in various trade rumors and innuendo, Danny Ainge continues to maintain that the Celtics have zero interest in trading him.

And Rondo has publicly stated that he wants to sign a long-term deal in Boston and ultimately finish his career as a Celtic.

"I like to stick to the script," Rondo said prior to Friday's loss to Oklahoma City. "I don't like change much. I wouldn't mind staying here the rest of my career."

Rondo's willingness to embrace the reality that this Celtics team isn't built to win a title like the squads he has played on in recent years, speaks to the connection he has with this franchise and his desire to be the leader that ushers in a new, more successful era very soon.

Kevin Garnett, one of Rondo's biggest influences when it comes to leadership, believes Rondo is more than ready to be the team's leader now.

"Rondo is mature, he understood what was coming," Garnett said. "Before he had me and Kevin to lean on and now he's the guy. He's the (captain), he is who everybody looks to for leadership and I think he's ready."

Garnett believes Rondo's experience with winning at the highest of levels and struggling to win, give him a perspective that only strengthens his ability to lead this team going forward.

"He's got to understand that this is his team to lead through good and through bad," Garnett said. "I think he understands that and he is ready for that role. He's ready to deal with it."

Garnett added, "I think he took notes last time we were talking to him. More importantly, we stressed that you need to lead by example, even when he doesn't want to. I also talked to him about being professional and being a pro. You don't get to pick and choose when you get to do that. Just understand the pedigree of a champion. You don't let losing become something usual. Keep the mentality tough, and not all are going to follow but most will. Lead by example and just having a voice, do it by example. Rondo is ready. I think he is very comfortable in his role here. I think he understood the transition when it was happening. And he has the mentality and he's the type of person with the personality to do just that."