Coming to Terms with Rondo

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Published: November 19, 2017

Here is how I overcame my initial concerns with the Rondo signing to view him favorably now.

When the New Orleans Pelicans signed Rajon Rondo, I was a bit stunned. I was not stunned because of the magnitude of the move or anything like that. I was stunned because I, frankly, had fairly uniform negative feelings about Rondo as a player-personality based on light observation from years before, plus I had some technical and roster concerns.

So, I wrestled with these in the moment and beyond, having to reconcile my fandom and ideas about the best moves for the team and these concerns.

I thought I’d share my thoughts when we made his official debut, as that would give me the most time to come to terms with it. That got delayed, then moved up, etc. So, it’s today. Whatever.

Initial Thoughts

When news of the signing broke, I was on duty to cover team news for our gang, and I was in Austin recovering from a late night of doing nothing with some of my best friends in the world. Oh, I had fish and chips, too. Mmmmmm. If you can park, Austin is great.

Anyway, I was flooded with thoughts pretty quickly. Like a volley from long bows:

  • I don’t like Rondo. He had an attitude problem early on with the Celtics, and I really didn’t like some of his interactions with Chris Paul when he was in New Orleans. Really.
  • Character matters. Whatever character means in this case, it matters. This is not good.
  • At what salary? This slams the hardcap down on their heads, is it the full TMLE, or did they swing a minimum deal? It was up in the air.
  • That ain’t shooting! I guess we are going with better shots for not-better shooters. Fine, but it is perhaps telling (though not about Rondo) if they missed on that many shooters. I have to keep an eye on this.
  • Still, I don’t like Rondo.
  • His middle name is Pierre? Nice. (I was looking it up on the phone on the couch downstairs during my grieving cycle; this is part of “bargaining.” I included this tid-bit in my initial write-up.)
  • Remember, you like the hardcap, you idiot (still bargaining).

Current Thoughts

  • Fan Concerns:

    This was the foremost issue for me. I don’t subscribe to this non-fandom writers have or claim to have (depending on the writer). I am a fan, and I declare it with pride. I can be objective, but I am fan. I write and do that at least in part because I am a fan. I, thankfully, have not had to deal with a player I just do not like. Rondo coming in forced me to have a look hard at the situation. Billy Corgan once defined a fan (a near-example, but he said it way before) as someone who is going to give you a real chance to be appreciated. I like that, so I decided to give Rondo a chance because I was giving the Pelicans a chance on the matter.

    So, I dug in and did research (a typical approach for me is to read up). I was right about Rondo, but I was right about Rondo-2008, or however you wish to refer to that era of Rondo, to be more specific. I’m not sure about Rondo-2017. I’ve gotten a fairly applied label as a malcontent in my life, and I’ve gotten unfair ones. I’ve been there. I see the stuff about Rondo that has been said, and I contrast that to what those closest to him say and how this team responds to him on and off the court (they respond favorably). The difference is hmmmmmm-inspiring. At some point you just have to say, if he hates the Mavericks, there is good in him.

    And the door opens . . .

    We’ll see what sort of leeway he has with me in this fandom department if there’s ever an incident . . . I have no idea how I’ll react . . . but so far, that leeway has increased, for sure, and my expectations are changing. I know beyond the shadow of doubt that character really matters to the staff. They look for it, they foster it, whatever “it” is here. Rondo having arrived to this good emotional place from elsewhere may give him credit as a player-coach on these matters. It’s a perspective, and when teaching, it’s good for the students to know you have been in their chair. It gives common ground (like hating the Mavericks). I can see how he can actually be a net-plus here.

    I’m glad for this. This is part of the good that comes from free agency, and from long standing fandom. I like to think I’m a better person now, too, and I’m glad I can appreciate that about Rondo.

  • Technical Salary Concerns:

    In the end, the hardcap came down. The leap-ahead trade didn’t come in. This was the best move to improve the team, Rondo or no.

  • Roster Concerns:

    None. Rondo is by all accounts cerebral and both a clear and effective communicator (player rave about this with just the merest of prompting). He might rub people the wrong way, but he’s straight up. He’s also got the ear of Cousins, which has value that is hard to calculate but is certainly positive and something that has a certain . . . leverage.

  • System Concerns:

    None really. As long as the dude is going to get up and play, still has something in the tank, he’s a fine addition. There are many ways to play this thing, and it’s all about getting good shots. The worse the shooter, the better the set up needed to make it shake out right. NOLA didn’t improve the shooting that much, so they went this route. Fine. It’s a valid choice. He could play defense. I hope he still can. I think he can at least help others do it, so, fine.

So, yes. Time, a little research, and some introspection got me over my initial reactions. It was fan concern for the most part that had me feeling negative, and that is 100% legit. Working through this was an important step. I’m not going to give anyone else a pass just because Rondo shaped up, but I think next time my reaction will be more wait and see, which is more pleasant. That’s helpful for me, at least.

Final Thoughts

I don’t have any. That’s the point.

Learn to learn.

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