I've been reading (on cd) an in-depth bio of Ted Williams, probably the greatest hitter ever in baseball. It's amazing to think that Boston has seen guys who may have been the best ever in all four 'major' sports - Ted Williams, Bill Russell, Bobby Orr and the Patriots qb. We've also had some contenders for GOAT in other sports, such as boxing and long distance running. It's a town full of legends. Some of those legends were loved by the media, endlessly loved, such as Bobby Orr. Others were hated, such as Bill Russell and Ted Williams. In a town full of legends, Rajon Rondo seems to be building his own legend, and sadly he seems to have more of a Ted Williams than a Bobby Orr or Larry Bird relationship with the media.
At times, the similarities between Williams and Rondo are eerie. I've always assumed from his name that Rondo has some latin background. I don't know if he does, but I was surprised to read that Williams was half latin. More importantly, both guys seem to be (have been) obsessive perfectionists. This seems to have led to a perception that they were not team players. It also seems to encourage, paradoxically, a notion that they are 'naturals', to whom the game comes easy. There is such a high level of skill to what Rondo does, but he makes it look easy. The way he almost never throws a pass that doesn't involve some kind of fake or misdirection, for example, passes unnoticed. It's claimed that he just has a natural ability to thread the needle. I doubt if anyone studies the passing game as intensively as Rondo does and has. Probably no one ever worked at hitting and studied hitting as hard as Williams. But they make it look so easy. Either you understand the artistry involved and you admire it, or you think it's easy and you resent them for it.
Another thing in common between Williams and Rondo was/is a refusal to play the media 'game'. Both guys refused to schmooz the media. Both guys are/were intensely private. Again there is a paradox - these guys were/are hated by the media because they don't play up to the media, but sought because they said/say what they think, and this provides endless material. All I can say, in the end, is that if you love the game, you can't hate these guys. What they need is constructive criticism, not constant nasty carping.
And I do count the assertions that Rondo can't be a number one guy, and can't lead a contender, and so on, to be nasty carping. He's already proven that he can be and do those things. It's nonsense to claim otherwise. But can he and will he step up in this new, more challenging situation? Only the future will answer that question. But a yes answer seems to be building up game by game. We'll see tonight if Rondo shows big-time leadership and broad shoulders in a very important pride game. Time for the first trip-dub of the season, no doubt!!