Sometime over this season, I remember reading a very complimentary article about Rajon Rondo's development. Unfortunately, I can't remember the source, but it jumped into my mind last night with 1:20 left in the game.
In the article, it discussed how Rondo's toughest thing to deal with last season was being a 22 year old point guard that had to say "No" to Hall of Fame scorers when they demand the ball. In tough times, all three of those guys want the ball, and there is only one to go around.
Doc even recalled playing with Nique and Reggie Theus and another scorer who escapes me at the moment.....and talked about how on one crucial play, all three guys came up to him during a timeout demanding the ball. Doc decided to come down the floor, jack up a three, and glare at all three of them to make a point.
Which brings me to 1:20 left in game 5, 85-83 Magic, Rondo has Paul Pierce running out to the top of the key demanding the ball. Here was our go-to-guy...the player that everyone wants to see with the ball in his hands with the game on the line.....the NBA Finals MVP....running up with arms waving, wanting the rock.
Rondo emphatically, waves him off. "NO". I was kind of shocked. I even said out loud to myself, "Did Rondo just refuse to give Paul the ball?" No sooner were the words out of my mouth when Ray Allen came running through some traffic, Rondo hits him perfectly for the three that gave us the lead.
It was eerie how Rondo knew what needed to be done there. How many point guards would have refused to just dump the ball to Pierce and let him work his magic? I thought that decision by Rondo was the play of the game on a night when he didn't have his best game. And it was a real sign of the player that he has grown into, and is still growing into.
The shame of KG's injury this season is that this team would have been better than the Championship team. Rondo is a different player now. Ray Allen was clearly not healthy last season. The chemistry has improved tenfold.