"This is Rondo's team, he's the leader now." It's what we've been hearing the past month or so from every part of the Celtics organization. While that may be true to a certain extent, I don't think that's the case when it comes to this Celtics team.
"You cannot be a leader, and ask other people to follow you, unless you know how to follow, too." -- Sam Rayburn, former speaker of the house
Rondo said it himself a few weeks back,
Rondo is embracing a leadership role, but stresses this isn't a one-man operation. "I’m not the team leader," Rondo said Monday before the team departed for Turkey. "Everybody keeps saying that, [Celtics president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] put that pressure on me [by calling Rondo the team's best player]. There’s 15 guys on this team. Paul [Pierce has] been here for 15 years and I’m still following in his footsteps. I might be a leader as far as point guard wise, and I’ll accept that role. But three or four guys are the leaders -- Kevin, Paul, and even [Jason Terry]. They are the veterans. I’m going to lead the young guys, and try to lead the older guys as well. But I’m still following."
Leadership is quality that can't be measured on a stat sheet, and something that is hard to teach. This team's success will ultimately depend on leadership, but not only from one person. No, this Celtics team will take a different approach to leadership and lead by committee, which is particularly the reason why I am so excited for this upcoming season more than others before.
I look at this Celtics team and in every area, I see leaders and that's the most important quality of this team. To allow you to see my vision a bit clearer, think of the season in terms of a relay race. The gun is fired, and the first leg of the race is run by none other than Danny Ainge.
When the bloggers and experts look around the league, they'll talk about how glittery it is in LA, the rivalry in New York, or how dangerous LeBron and the Miami Heat are this year. In comparison to the moves that were made this summer, the Celtics didn't make any of the top free agent coups. They didn't blow up the roster either.
Here's what happened:
Danny put together a team. A real team. This roster was built in a way that we haven't seen it before. Doc always references his wishlist that he gave Danny this summer and from the looks of it, Doc got his wish list. You can debate that we didn't get a a true backup pg or a quality big, even though with the roster we currently have the big man rotation is pretty solid. And for the price? Truly remarkable job by Danny Ainge. His leadership in the front office is already being lauded by everyone in the media, Celtics faithful, and the players and so now it's Doc's turn to take what Danny was able to give him and make it work.
It's a relay race, everyone does their part and passes the baton of leadership to the next person.
From the preseason games and the training camp sounds we've seen/heard thus far, Doc's leadership is what holds this team together. This is a roster full of talent, yet we have guys that could be starting on most teams in reserve roles and the fact that everyone is ok with the roles that Doc has given them, speaks volumes. No, there are no questions about who's starting, no one trying to move in to the starting lineup, no quarrels about minutes (yet). Everyone is ready to fulfill the role that they were brought in to fill. That's Doc's part and from last night's game, you can only imagine how much fun he's going to have with the talent he has once everyone's roles are set.
Doc's been given the talent to put on the court, now Rondo has the keys to the offense. He's the floor leader out there. The baton of leadership is passed to him and he's trusted to do what's best on the court for this team and rightfully so. Giving him that role, or at least the public acknowledgment of it by Danny, Doc, PP, KG and Rondo is more of a confidence and trust thing, than a coronation. Rondo understands what's expected of him and of the Celtics in order to be successful and that was a step that needed to be taken.
And the cycle continues, it's a trickle down effect. KG has been and will continue to be our defensive leader, and the soul of this team. His energy, his presence, his leadership of the other bigs is just invaluable to this team and having that in place is so key to the success of this team. Pierce is still the heart of this team, our captain will always bring us home. I personally love his aggression out there and with such a talented offensive team this year, I think his aggressive play will help dictate the rest of the team offensively. Notice how well the team plays when he's leading the attack? He could sit back and average 10-14 points a night and we'd probably still win, but Paul hasn't taken a minute off. It's almost like the fact that the team is so stacked that it makes him challenge himself out there to take advantage of every minute he has on the floor.
The baton of leadership his the third leg of the race with the bench players, as they can be that push that comes right before the last leg that gives us the advantage. Everything from JET calling the second unit "his guys", taking ownership of that second unit is huge. Sullinger getting out there and changing the rebounding culture of the team (hopefully) and doing the dirty work. Always consistent Bass, Courtney is finally getting comfortable (if he plays like he did last night every night, the league is surely in for some trouble this year). I could keep going, but then you'd be reading all day long. The point is, everyone on this team is a leader in some way and I love that about them.
The baton is passed again for the last time, and we're in that last leg of the race. Now, it's not one person running, but the whole team. And they're leading us to the championship. This team needs everyone to play their role perfectly in order to get there. Yeah, we're running a relay race and that extra push that will get us through the finish? The advantage the Celtics have that no one else does? Press play below...
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Can't wait to rock the garden this season.