It sounds counter-intuitive, but Rondo is showing major leadership by saying "I'm not the team leader." Here's the full quote.
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."
That's such a Rondo move. Jumping off the wrong foot. Misdirecting by using non-conforming moves. Leading by following and following by leading.
It takes a mature, sophisticated person to be put in a position of authority and resist the urge to let that go to their head. Rondo could have just accepted the title and started barking orders. But he knows better and he respects his teammates too much.
It is interesting for those of use that remember Paul Pierce's early years. He was a reluctant leader at times. He suffered from immaturity problems on occasion and for the most part he was happy to let Antoine Walker be the vocal face of the franchise. A lot has changed since then.
Rondo has had the luxury of learning from some of the games greatest players. He happens to still be playing with them, yet he has been put in a position to be their leader. That's got to be a tough spot, but I really like the way he's approaching it in both words and actions this year.
It sounds silly, but I feel kinda proud of him. All those years of trade rumors and whispers about bad blood between Rajon and his teammates has made life as a Rondo fan a little hard. But if he follows this track and leads this team on the court as well as he has off it this summer, then he could prove a lot of doubters wrong and vindicate his long-standing fans that always believed in him.
Rondo's already one of the game's best. This is just the next natural progression for him. Leadership, Rondo's way.