For four years Rajon Rondo has walked the line between accepting his role and forcing people to respect his game. He was passed over in the draft but was a starter by the end of his rookie season. He was thrown into a lineup with 3 future Hall of Famers and steered them to an NBA title. When Garnett went down last year, Rondo stepped up his game and helped Pierce and Ray push the Magic to 7 games. Once he signed an extension with the team he responded by earning his first All Star appearance.
After a while you just knew. It wasn't a matter of "if" he would take the reigns form the Big 3 so much as it was "when."
Ray Allen has already accepted his role as a (very good) 2nd option and long distance assassin. Kevin Garnett has predictably been slow to accept the reality of his once freakish body becoming mortal again. Paul Pierce still walks with the swagger of an alpha dog, but hasn't been able to stop the trend of "two steps forward, one step back." As a collective group they are still formidable and many times they still take turns playing the hero. But none of them would be blessed with the opportunity to extend their legacies right now if not for Rajon Rondo.
It has been an absolute jot to watch Rajon mature and grow into this role. I have a real soft spot for pass-first point guards and he's pretty much the new poster-boy for that mold. He's simultaneously humble and cocky. He's soft spoken and brash. He's generous and greedy. He's a facilitator but totally in control. And best of all, he's a winner.
In fact, he does whatever it takes to win. He's smart enough to know that "what it takes to win" changes from game to game and even quarter to quarter. Of course it always starts with great defense (he was named to the first team All Defensive squad this year). As a hard court quarterback he knows that sometimes you have to grind it out and sometimes you have to push the pace. You have to pick your spots. Like a chess match, sometimes you have to make moves and call plays early in the game to set up plays later on. It is an art that you can improve upon over time, but you can't really teach.
I'm not sure what the rest of these playoffs have in store for the Celtics. None of us knows what will happen in the offseason or over the next couple of years. But one thing I'm fairly certain about (and very comfortable with) is that Rajon Rondo is going to be front and center, leading the charge. All our hopes rest upon his thin but surprisingly sturdy shoulders.
He is our MVP.