No apology, but Rondo thanks teammates
May, 3, 2012
By Chris Forsberg | ESPNBoston.com
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo stressed his gratitude to teammates for pulling out a Game 2 victory without him Tuesday night in Atlanta, but meeting with reporters Thursday at the team's practice facility, Rondo stopped short of apologizing for his actions that led to a one-game suspension after bumping a referee in Game 1.
Grant Halverson/Getty ImagesRajon Rondo gets tossed from Game 1 vs. the Hawks.
"I try not to let my emotions get the best of me, but I’m an emotional player," said Rondo. "I try to keep my composure and my emotions to myself, but it was a heat-of-the-battle moment and I wanted to win. We make mistakes. I’m not on trial, or anything.
"We still got the win," he added when asked if he understood how detrimental it was for the team to not have him in a key playoff game. "I’m important to the team -- everybody is important to the team, one way or another. Obviously, I'm the starting point guard for this team, but there are guys that get paid to do this. It's a 15-man roster. Guys stepped up and played well. Regardless of how we got the win, we got the win."
Rondo might not have seemed contrite Thursday, maintaing a brash confidence in front of the microphones, but his actions Tuesday suggested he was genuinely thrilled that his teammates won the game without him.
"I think I ran down the tunnel and gave [Kevin Garnett] the first hug, told him, ‘Thank you.’ I appreciate everything you guys have done for me," said Rondo. "Obviously, they won it for themselves, but they told me, ‘We got this one for you.’ That felt good. It felt like I was a part of it. It changed the series."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers described how Rondo waited outside the team bus after the game to shake hands with many of his teammates and again thank them for pulling out a pivotal victory.
"He was very happy, thanking guys as we were getting on the bus," said Rivers. "That’s great. I don’t know if he would have done that two years ago. He would have been thankful, but he would have been in the back of the bus with his head down -- down on himself. Instead, I’m sure he still was [down on himself], but he showed emotion towards the other guys. I keep saying it, you guys get the luxury, including me, of watching him grow up in front of us. That’s a step there."
Rivers admitted it's tough to get a read on Rondo, but stressed that in both the emotional outburst in Game 1 and his thankfulness towards the team after Game 2, the point guard genuinely meant well.
"I always think his intentions are right," said Rivers. "That doesn’t mean he does the right things all the time. I’d rather have a guy that, to me, had good intentions than guys that are just thinking about themselves, purely. When those acts happen, you view them as a selfish act, but I don’t think he did it selfishly. It just turned into a selfish act."
Rivers said that, ultimately, the best way to show his thanks would be for Rondo to come out and carry the team in Game 3 on Friday night.
"Well, he just told them, ‘Thank you,' that’s all you can do. He didn’t have a party for them or anything," quipped Rivers. "But the way to do it the best is to come out in Game 3 and play a terrific game. You want to make sure he doesn’t try to do too much, just do what he does. Sometimes I think when guys miss a game, they come out the next game and they want to really help the team instead of playing their game."
Rondo seemed put off by the idea that he would try to press too hard on Friday.
"I don't have anything to prove. Why would I have anything to prove? I just want to win. That’s it," said Rondo. "I’m confused about why you guys would think I have anything to prove. It’s a game that I’ve been playing my entire life. The world knows what I can do. Like I said, the world knows what I can do. I’m just going to out and do what I do best and try to be the best point guard in the NBA."
Later Rondo added, "You learn from your mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. I only got suspended one game. The great thing about it is the series is 1-1 and we’re in Boston."