Note: The NBA Finals ended too late to write a column off the game for all C-J editions today, so my column in today’s paper doesn’t address them. But obviously, there is no bigger sports story in Louisville today than the performance Louisville native and former University of Kentucky star Rajon Rondo put on in last night’s title-clinching blowout win for the Boston Celtics over the Los Angeles Lakers. A few thoughts.
When the University of Louisville put its cards on Sebastian Telfair instead of the Louisville native Rondo, it was tough to see this.
Even three nights ago, when Rondo was the whipping boy of every NBA commentator for not providing enough scoring from his point guard spot, it was tough to see this.
For Rajon Rondo, it was tough. But in last night’s NBA Finals, you just had to see this: Rondo, celebrating, dishing with authority, and taking command of a lethal Celtics floor game as just a second-year NBA player, a player who wouldn’t even be playing in the League had he not left UK early.
The post-game analysis was all about Boston’s Big Three. And they deserved it. But so did Rondo, who after being a whipping boy last weekend was cracking the whip of the Boston offense last night. His final stat line: 21 points, 8 rebounds, and six steals to lead an NBA Finals record defensive attack that produced 18 steals in the game.
He played 31 minutes with only one turnover. And after being criticized for his offensive passivity, Rondo took a team-high 21 shots.
In terms of sports accomplishments by Louisville natives, Rondo’s has to be included on a very exclusive list. Not only did he win a championship ring, but was a key player in the title run.
Rondo has faced questions from all fronts: About his attitude, his jump shot, his mental approach.
From now on, when he hears those questions, Rondo can flash a new answer.
He can flash a ring.