LOS ANGELES -- After Game 1, he sat at the podium and was asked a question. Answered it. Then, silence. About 20 seconds later, another question, another answer, followed by a longer silence. Then one more. Then the silence took over again.
He sat there and waited for someone -- anyone -- to ask him a question. To create a conversation with him. One more person asked one more meaningless question. Then, nothing. Longer silence. After it became obvious that no one in a room full of media had anything to say to him, Rajon Rondo was told by an embarrassed member of the NBA's media relations staff that he could leave.
It was a disturbing piece of disrespect shown by a room full of professionals to a man who, after a guy named Kobe, should be the second major topic of conversation in these Finals.
One journalist leaned over to me and said, "They keep asking him questions like he's a child. How did it feel to do this? How did you feel when you did that? As long as they ask him questions like he's a kid, he's going to give us kid answers. He feels like we are insulting his intelligence."
So true. But along with that, we've been insulting our own intelligence when it comes to him. By not truly recognizing who Rajon Rondo really is, what his role in these Finals really is, how important he really is to the Celtics' success or failure, we -- the credentialed media covering these Finals -- are shortchanging ourselves. But after Game 2, that's (probably hopefully finally ) going to change.
Outside the locker room after Sunday night's 103-94 Celtics win, they were calling it "The Sequence." It began at the 5:58 mark in the fourth quarter with the Lakers up by three. In a span of 1 minute and 48 seconds, Rondo turned what was well on its way to being a 53-minute Finals classic into his personal layup drill. One uncontested layup. Two. Then a third. Then the timeout. The Lakers were down by one.
They never saw another lead. Game essentially over. The Sequence.
This is what changed the direction of the game, if not the series. (Literally and figuratively.)
Rondo's triple-double (19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) was as responsible for the Celtics' steal of Game 2 on the road as was Ray Allen's Michael Jordan versus Portland/Reggie Miller in NYC impersonation in the first half. His energy, desire and by-any-means-necessary determination to not lose gave the C's the rhythm (despite the 58 foul calls made by the refs) they couldn't find in Game 1.
He attacks the game with a beautiful awkwardness that is sometimes harder to appreciate than Ghostface's flow. His stops and starts and changes of direction can't be figured out even after hours of film study.
It sounds so simple, what the Lakers should do to contain him: Just stay in front of him. But that's really about as simple as stopping BP's oil leak.
Rondo gives teams fits. That's what he does. And throughout Game 2, with Kobe defending him for the most part, he irritated L.A.'s defensive schemes by making it impossible for the Lakers to know what he was going to do next. Impossible for them to come up with a way to stop his flow.
After the game, when asked about Rondo's performance, his coach used words like "incredible" and "special."
Allen, who set a Finals record with 8 3-pointers, used more powerful adjectives: "awesome" and "unheralded."
"[He] controlled the game," is how the Lakers' Pau Gasol described it.
(Even Bryant reluctantly, in his best Gregg Popovich podium performance to date, gave Rondo props.)
Then the moment came. Rondo stepped to the podium for the second time in these Finals; and this time, there were more than three people who wanted to ask him something. The questions weren't any better, but it was evident by the lack of silence that the respect -- which has been in place already from fans and peers -- was finally about to come his way from the media, some of whom don't even know how to pronounce his name yet. Respect that should have been given a long time ago to a dude who is being discussed in bar and barbershop conversations as the best point guard in the game, who was named to the All-NBA defensive first team, an All-Star who already has a ring as the starting quarterback for the squad that copped the crown two years ago.
He's been here before, and we need to stop acting as though he's new to us. Rondo is proving before our eyes that his time is now; and we're going to miss it if we don't start respecting who he is and what he does and accepting that the "+1" is now "The One."
On Sunday night, he was the last one to come to the postgame news conference podium for a reason. You know the saying: "Save the best for "
With Rondo, it's really time we recognize it.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for ESPN.com.