Rajon Rondo: Best Celtics PG of all-time?

776812.jpg

Rajon Rondo: Best Celtics PG of all-time?

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.

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

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

Celtics-Wizards preview: Making of a matchup

BOSTON -- While it’s debatable whether the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards are rivals, there’s no question there has been a heightened level of animosity towards one another when they play.

When these two met on Jan. 11, the Celtics came away with a 117-108 win.

But the game itself featured plenty of back-and-forth trash talk, finger-pointing, cries of dirty play and NBA fines.

IN FACT . . . Washington plans to bury Boston

“It’ll be a physical game,” said Jae Crowder who was hit with a five-figure fine for his role in a post-game incident involving Washington’s John Wall. “We have to answer the bell; we’ll be ready.”

Crowder knows he and his teammates must balance being the more physical team, with not losing their cool because if tonight’s game is anything like previous ones, there will be trash talk … lots of trash talk.

“They talk a little bit more than other teams,” said Crowder who added that was a factor in the incident him and Wall which cost them $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Crowder said a flagrant-foul committed by Washington’s Bradley Beal against Marcus Smart was what really cranked the level of animosity that was already at a high level.

But Beal probably hasn’t fully put behind him an incident last season in which Smart broke his nose and put him in the league’s concussion protocol program on a Smart drive to the basket.

As far as the hard foul that Beal delivered to him earlier this month, Smart said, “you take exception to every hard foul.”

Smart added, “It’s the game of basketball. You play with your emotions and intensity and everything like that. It comes with the game.”

While Crowder understands the Celtics have to play a physical brand of basketball, he’s not looking to do anything that might result in him having to cut another $25,000 check which was the amount of his fine from the Jan. 11 game against the Wizards.

“I’m looking at it as another game we have to win,” Crowder said. “I’m not looking at it as a rivalry or anything like that. I’m not coming in talking; they might.”

For the Wizards, winners in four of their five games since losing to Boston, a major key to their success lies in the play of their backcourt.

John Wall and Bradley Beal are the latest high-scoring backcourt tandem that the Celtics have to be worried about.

And making matters worse for Boston, the Celtics will have to try and make due without Avery Bradley who is still dealing with a right Achilles injury.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said the 6-foot-2 Bradley was not going to be with the team in Washington and would most likely be out all this week.

That means Boston will lean heavily on Smart to not only help the offense run relatively smooth, but also provide some much-needed defense to help limit Wall and Beal who collectively rank among the higher-scoring starting backcourts in the NBA.

“We have to slow them down; by any means we have to slow them down,” Thomas said. “We know they go as far as those two take them. It’s going to be a tough game. They have a lot of momentum at home. It’ll be a tough game for us. But we’re ready for the opportunity.”

Wall and Beal are just the latest in a string of high-scoring backcourts that the Celtics have had to contend with recently.

In Saturday’s 127-123 overtime home loss to Portland, C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard combined to score 63 points on 20-for-42 shooting from the field.

“This stretch of backcourts is exceptionally difficult,” Stevens said. “They (Wall and Beal) both should be and certainly are in the discussion for the all-star team. It’s a real difficult challenge. Our guys are going to have to be really good on both ends of the floor.”

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

Wizards to Celtics: We're going to bury you

The last time Boston played at Washington, the Wizards buried them by 25 points.

It seems the Wizards have a similar mindset for Tuesday’s game which will feature every Wizards playing showing up in all-black.

“You know where we’re going with that,” Washington’s Kelly Oubre Jr. told the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

Yes.

We do.

But in case anyone wasn’t sure, let John Wall put the cookies on the bottom shelf for you and explain in succinct terms.

“A fun-er-ral!” he said with the man who thought this up, Bradley Beal, in the background yelling, “Yaa!”

The Celtics players acknowledged that Tuesday’s game would most likely be a physical, trash-talking affair.

That stems from their matchup two weeks ago that included a lot of physical play both teams that ultimately ended with the Celtics coming away with a 117-108 win.

ROUND ONE: THE JANUARY 11 GAME

Bradley Beal was whistled for a flagrant-one foul against Marcus Smart that seemed to get both benches hyped up.

Those two have a history dating back to last season when Smart, while driving to the basket, landed his left forearm across Beal’s face. The blow resulted in Beal’s nose being broken in addition to being put in the league’s concussion protocol program.

And after the Jan. 11 game, Jae Crowder and John Wall had a heated exchange of words that ended with Crowder’s pushing his finger into Wall’s nose, and Wall retaliating by slapping Crowder’s face.

The league fined Crowder $25,000 and Wall $15,000 for their roles in the incident.

“It’s going to be a competitive game,” Wall said. “Hopefully everybody just keep it clean and … makes it one of those great battles.”

Said Beal: “We want to keep it clean as much as possible but we know it’ll probably get chippy, a little trash talking.”

Isaiah Thomas, who was whistled for a technical foul in the Jan. 11 game, understands emotions will run pretty high in Tuesday’s game.

 “You just have to be ready for whatever comes our way,” Thomas said. “We’re not going to shy away from it. But we’re all human. There will probably be a little bit of physicality, a little bit of things to carry over to tomorrow’s game. But the most important thing is we just have to try and take care of business.”