This week in the Philippines (Ive always wanted to start a post like that), Rajon Rondo told reporters that he hopes to end his career as the greatest point guard in the history of the Boston Celtics. And naturally, thanks to the boldness of his statement and the fact theres nothing else to talk about, the quote made waves back home.
So lets ask the question: Does Rondo really have a chance to become the greatest point guard in Celtics history?
I guess the first thing we need to do is once and for all declare that theres no right answer here. By even entertaining the question, were throwing ourselves down a subjective wormhole where absolute right and wrong dont exist. After all, what is great? Is it rings? If so, then the answer will always be Bob Cousy. Is it the opinion of other greats? If so, its hard to beat Dennis Johnson, who Larry Bird has always called, the best teammate I ever had. Is greatness defined by a low center of gravity? If so, meet John Bagley: The greatest point guard in Celtics history! (Hmm, or would it be Sherman Douglas?)
Anyway, one thing we can agree on is that in order to be considered the greatest in Celtics history, a player needs to have, at some point in his Boston career, been recognized as one of the best PGs in his conference. In other words, he needs to be an All-Star. So with that, we eliminate some fringe greatest point guard possibilities like Kenny Anderson, Milt Palacio and J.R. Bremer and are left with five candidates:
Rajon Rondo: Three-time All-Star
Dennis Johnson: One-time Celtics All-Star (Five total)
Tiny Archibald: Four-time Celtics All-Star (Five total)
Jo Jo White: Seven-time All-Star
Bob Cousy: 13-time All-Star
I think its also fair to say that the greatest point guard in Celtics history should play, or have played the majority of his career or at the very least, his prime in a Celtics uniform. That eliminates Archibald, a Hall of Famer and the last point guard to lead the NBA both scoring and assists, who didnt land in Boston until he was 30. As well as DJ, who played only seven of his 14 NBA seasons in green.
That leaves Cousy, Rondo and White. But shouldnt the best point guard in Celtics history also be a natural point guard? I think so, so with the ultimate respect for Jo Jo, were down to two: Rondo and Cousy.
Now obviously, if were talking right . . . NOW, then Cousy's the undisputed choice. He has six rings, which tops every Cs point guard other than K.C. Jones. He has more assists than anyone, and its not even close. Hes freaking Bob Cousy. Of course hes the best point guard in Celtics history.
But what will it take for Rondo to surpass him?
Again, this is all so subjective it hurts especially when you get into the lack of diversity in Cousy's NBA but considering that (short of LeBron, Dwight Howard and Kevin Durant retiring to start a boy band) theres no chance in hell that Rondo matches Cousys ring count, I think it will come down to this: Rondo needs to steal the Celtics all-time assists crown.
As it stands, Cousy's the leader with 6,945 assists. John Havlicek is second with 6,114 and Larry Bird is third with 5,695.
Rondo is seventh with 3,523, which leaves him 3,423 short of the top spot.
So, is that number attainable? You bet.
Factoring in last years shortened season, Rondos averaged 775 assists a year since making the leap in 2009, and lets be honest, hes showed no signs of slowing down.
At this rate, it will take Rondo only 4.42 seasons to surpass Cousy. That means he'll do it sometime around his 31st birthday, with at least a few years left to pad his all-time lead.
What happens if Rondo retires in eight or nine years with thousands of assists on Cousy? What happens if he's somehow able to add another ring to his collection? Sure, the old guard will always argue in favor of Cooz, but it wont be so easy. At the very least, we'll have some heated debate.
Now, this obviously would require Rondo signing an extension with the Cs at some point over the next three years, but I think that desire is implied in his original statement. If he wants to finish his career as the best point guard in Celtics history, then he needs to stay with the Celtics. Or more, he wants to stay with the Celtics.
And really, while all the subjective "greatest point guard" back and forth is fun especially in the midst of these off-season dog days the more important takeaway from Rondo's statement is this: He finally sounds comfortable and committed to being a long-term member of this team, and there's no doubt that's a direct result of finally feeling like the Celtics are finally committed to him.
It's just a shame that we still have another TWO months before seeing this newfound commitment play out on the court.