Did you spend your Sunday afternoon watching the second half of ABC’s doubleheader? If so, then you maybe have seen me. Section one, row ten, seat eight, grey fitted hat with the sticker. I was next to that guy with enough fake jewelry to open his own kiosk, and two seats behind Rajon Rondo’s wife, who spent most of the game lint rolling. I accidentally left the camera in my backpack, which I left in the car… so you’ll just have to take my word for all of that.
If LeBron’s career was limited to his three games that I’ve attended he’d go down as a relatively-inefficient, 21.7-point-per-game scorer with a losing record. While I feel very fortunate to have seen one of the greatest athletes of my lifetime not only in person, but multiple times from different vantage points no further than 10 rows from the world’s most-famous parquet floor, I can’t honestly say that yesterday’s game wasn’t the third time I’ve come away some degree of disappointed. Twenty-three points on 11-20 is hardly a disaster, but we’re talking about a man who’s employment decisions call for TV specials.
I have managed to catch glimpses of LeBron’s greatness. I’ve seen him elevate for powerful slam dunks, I’ve watched him dish no-look passes, and I’ve witnessed his lock-down defense. Just yesterday I looked on in awe as he palmed the ball, whipped it around as if he had it speared, drove baseline, ducked a defender, and sunk a floating jumper from 15 feet. There wasn’t another player on the floor who could’ve done that quite like he did, and I appreciate having seen him do it from about 50 feet away. What I’ve really always hoped for, though, is to see the King in his glory. I want to hear the TD Banknorth Garden silenced, and exit amongst a salty flood of furious homers too foolhardy to be thankful that they were in attendance.
Turns out that I saw something a little different, obviously. A blowout Boston victory, for one, and happy homers as a result. I got to thinking about the game, and the impression with which I was left… and I realized that I’d had an epiphany or sorts.
Never again will you find me making the argument that Rajon Rondo’s assist totals are a bit misleading thanks to the excellent shooters the Celtics have placed around him. Not because there isn’t any truth to it (that’s a debate that is now irrelevant to me), but because it makes him out to be a lesser passer. After the display of vision that unfolded in front of my face yesterday afternoon… I can no longer type any sort of sentence that may come off as a slight to this man’s play-making ability.
I don’t specifically remember all 14 assists Rajon Rondo had as he dissected the defense of the Miami Heat. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure I could give you a detailed description of any of them. There was one dime that led to a Paul Pierce three-pointer… it was right on the money, and came after some sort of interesting move or fake. The picture is a bit hazy, but that one is starting to come back to me. That’s the only one, though… and it’s kinda funny, because I do recall each of his two turnovers. I thought they were his standout plays.
See, both of Rondo’s TOs were actually brilliant ideas, but only he had the ability to recognize each opportunity. The intended beneficiaries–Avery Bradley and Brandon Bass–simply were not able to visualize the play unfolding as Rondo had, resulting in a pair of speeding basketballs zipping right past their hands. As crazy as it may seem, their inability to catch the ball made the passes that much more impressive. It helped to demonstrate how Rondo seemed to have been playing the game a second or two ahead of everyone else.
To have 14 assists to just 2 turnovers is one thing. To have 14 assists, 11 rebounds, and 16 points in a 19-point win over the Heat along with a lone pair of turnovers on should’ve-been assists… that’s another. I’ve now watched Rajon Rondo record two triple-doubles in person. I’ve also seen him dish 16 and 19 assists. Never before, though, have I left the Garden blown away by the game he’d just had. I don’t know if it was my vantage point, some sort of unprecedented, accidental open mindedness, or if the game he played on Sunday was just that much more impressive than the previous ones I’d seen… but whatever it was, I possess a new appreciation for the talent of Rajon Rondo as of about 20 hours ago. I still don’t believe that he’s a top-five point guard–he performs too inconsistently given the strong crop of ones currently running the league–but he goes about making plays in a manner that is entirely his own. I mean, the way he creates angles and visualizes plays is indeed unique. I mean, one of a kind. I mean…
Ah, f@ck it. The guy’s ability to pass a basketball is as good as advertised. Give me a late pass.