Rondo's mental toughness is not easily matched in today's NBA. You can see the sweat dripping from Rondo's face onto the court. It's just another day at the office for Rondo, and just another day where he endures another test. Rondo was given 9 stitches after being elbowed in the head, off of a screen against the Raptors.
You know in his mind he tells himself,“Keep going, just keep at it". Encouraging thoughts keep Rondo in it mentally. At this point his body is aching. He looks towards the crowd then at his teammates for that little encouragement to get him to the next play. “People are counting on me”, he continues to tell himself.
The simple thoughts for any player who hates to lose or give up. "Never give up".. "Never give in".. "Give it your all until the end, until you have nothing left". Just things that Rondo lives by. Rondo's mental toughness to endure pain is impressive, but what about the verbal abuse from fans, and the media? Rondo's built a tough skin to endure all of that. Rondo's mental toughness touches everything. He's tough mentally when it comes to taking a beating mentally, and he's able to take hits physically.
Who knows what could have happened if Rondo had to leave in the third quarter to get stitches. He played 32 minutes, which is lower than his average of late, but either way Rondo was on pace to 20 assists, and perhaps driving the Celtics to victory. Rondo ended with 15 assists, and his passing ability sets him apart from anyone else. Rondo seems to always dig down deep. He didn't have to comeback into this game with the Celtics fighting for nothing right now, just pride I suppose. Rondo came in and wanted to beat Toronto. We know that he fell short, but the toughness coming from him is special and key for the Celtics.
"That's what kind of player he is," said Celtics guard Avery Bradley. "He's tough, he wants to win. I knew he'd come back without skipping a beat and he gave us a chance to win the game at the end."
If you thought Rondo was though, what about his dry sense of humor? I love his jab at Lebron after he was asked about protective wear.
"Just the Band-Aid for now," noted Rondo. "I might try to wear a mask, but I doubt it. A black mask."