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 Buster Olney discusses the pine tar incident involving Yankees P Michael Pineda with Alex Speier and Keith Law and wonders if MLB should allow certain substances to be used.
Play Podcast Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic share their thoughts on the ejection of Michael Pineda from Yankees-Red Sox and the conspicuous placement of the pine tar.
Play Podcast Red Sox OF Jonny Gomes discusses the atmosphere in Boston, the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, his team's slow start and more.
Play Podcast Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino discusses his team's response to the Boston Marathon bombings, how the city bounced back from the tragedy and more.
Play Podcast Actor Donnie Wahlberg talks about this year's Patriots' Day, his experience involving last year's Boston Marathon, security presence in the city and more.
Play Podcast Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh comments on how this Patriots' Day differs from those in the past, securing the marathon, the role sports plays in the city and more.
Play Podcast MLB Network's Kevin Millar weighs in on the uniqueness of Patriots' Day 2014, the Nationals' benching of Bryce Harper, the brawl during Brewers-Pirates and more.