One of the themes of this Celtics offseason aside from the infestation of bad Dionte "Christmas" jokes continues to be Rajon Rondo's transformation from the Big 3's perpetual younger brother to the foremost face of the C's.
Naturally, part of that stems from the reality that the Big 3 no longer exists. It would have been damn near impossible for Rondo to ever wrestle top billing away from that Hall of Fame trio. But now that the Big 3 is dead, the Celtics marqee needs a face lift, and Rondo's not only the most logical successor but also appears more poised than ever to take over.
I first wrote about this after Rondo's impressive performance on Jimmy Kimmel during the NBA Finals. I wrote about it again after the screaming about his relationship with Ray Allen. I bring it up one more time today on the heels of Rondo's weekend in Vegas, which while I'm sure consisted of a fair amount of pool time and partying, also featured a stop by the Celtics summer league game against the Bucks.
According to Greg Payne, Rondo spent Saturday afternoon sitting behind Boston's bench, dispensing advice and even had a hand in drawing up the Celtics' final play. The play failed, so I guess Doc River's job is safe (for now), but even in defeat, it's difficult to overlook Rondo's gesture.
"It was good for Rondo to come in and support the young guys," summer league coach Tyronn Lue said. "For him to come around and encourage guys, speaking up, having time in timeouts and stuff like that is good encouragement for them."
Added a merry (HAHAHAHAHAHA!) Dionte Christmas: "In about five minutes I learned so much from him, just by talking to him and him seeing things I didn't see on the floor."
Of course, we don't want to get too carried away here. It's obviously a lot easier to show up to a summer league game in Vegas than it is to lead a team every single day over the course of an 82 game season. And Rondo still hasn't proven that he can do that. Not to mention, when the season begins, Pierce and Garnett will still be every bit as invested in the Celtics cause as they've been for the last five years, and there are certain leadership responsibilities that will belong to those two for as long as they wear the uniform.
But while Pierce's off-season presence has been limited to a few sponsored tweets and Garnett has only existed through his PR-generated "Happy to be back!" press release and the second-handed telling of his text messages with Ray Allen and Fab Melo, Rondo has without question been the most proud and visible member of the Celtics.
Now to that you can say: Well what are Pierce and KG supposed to do? They've paid their dues. They've earned the right to an invisible offseason. To kick back and relax with their families and get ready for another grind.
But that's my point.
These guys have paid their dues. They've earned the right to do nothing but show up in shape on the first day of Training Camp (hopefully in better shape than last year), punch the clock and play basketball. They're past the stage of their career when you can ask for or expect anything more.
On the other hand, Rondo's just getting to that stage and continues to show that he's not only a guy who thinks he's ready to be the face of an NBA team, but a guy who you want to be the face of your team.
But for now, we'll leave the play calling to Doc.