Rondo ready for leadership role
Despite unwavering support from coach Doc Rivers, Rondo came under some scrutiny when a rift between him and Ray Allen became a focal point after Allen decided to sign with the rival Miami Heat in July. Rondo told Yahoo! he organized the offseason workouts in part to ease the transition for Allen's replacements in Jason Terry and Courtney Lee:
"I wanted [Jason Terry] to play with Kevin [Garnett]. I wanted Courtney [Lee] to see how Paul [Pierce] likes to play. I wanted Paul and Jeff Green to go at each other," Rondo told Yahoo! Sports. "I wanted to play with those guys. It was getting guys away from our actual training facility to get a new view.
"I wanted the guys to have fun. When you're with me I want you to say, 'Man, I had a good time with Rondo.' And I think that's what they did."
That fun extended off the court to a flag football game between players that included actual game officials. More from Yahoo!:
Rondo said the only Celtics that didn't play [in the football game] were Pierce and 7-foot, 255-pound rookie Fab Melo "because he might hurt somebody." Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Smith, a close friend of Rondo's, also played.
"My team won," Rondo said. "We dominated. I had seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. I had a nice kickoff return back. We had fun. KG was the quarterback of the other team, but they had to sub him out because he wasn't getting any touchdowns."
Rondo downplayed any bitterness between him and Ray Allen, suggesting, "People are blowing the Ray thing out of proportion," and said he does not know why Allen elected to sign with the Heat this summer.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers raved to ESPN Boston about Rondo's maturity while disclosing his role as trip organizer earlier this week.
"Rondo has been great, just terrific this summer," Rivers said. "He reached out to all the players and got every single one of them to fly to L.A. and practice together. They put in about four or five hours a day. Paul and KG were already out there, but Rondo got Jason and Courtney Lee and all the other guys on board too. He called and asked me what I thought of the idea. I loved it, especially because it was him that organized it."
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge reaffirmed that position Tuesday at the team's charity golf tournament, where he called Rondo the team's "best" player.
"The way he played last year in the playoffs, I thought was pretty incredible," said Ainge. "He proved he’s the best player on the team. He’s a guy that has earned the respect of his teammates and coaches. And I think that’s a big step. We're excited for him this year, he’s worked really hard this summer as well."
Play Podcast ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter weighs in on the Panthers' WR situation, Julian Edelman's future with the Patriots, Vince Wilfork's decision to ask for his release and more.
Play Podcast "Spanning the Globe" features ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss, Yahoo! Sports' Eric Edholm and ESPN LA 710's Mark Willard.
Play Podcast Red Sox manager John Farrell talks about whether he expected his team to make such a turnaround in one season, his relationship with his players, fans' expectations for the squad and more.