"Old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you were." - Neil Young
Rajon Rondo has had an interesting career as a Celtic already. He's been part of a rebuilding year and some very successful years. He had undeniable talent but slipped in the draft. He had almost immediate impact but also has had some very public maturity issues. He's become the face of the franchise but has had his name brought up in several trade rumors over the years.
If all of this sounds very familiar, it is because all of the above can be said about Paul Pierce's earlier years.
Pierce should have been a top 3 pick but somehow found his way to the Celtics at number 10. He became an All Star playing next to Antoine Walker but developed some bad habits and attitudes that had to be straightened out when Doc Rivers came to town. Danny Ainge even openly admits that there were times when Pierce was on the trading block - though not for any love lost for Pierce himself.
"Here’s the real truth about Paul," he said. "I think it’s pretty well known that Paul was discussed in a trade to get Chris Paul when Chris Paul was coming out in the (2005) draft and we were talking to Portland, who had the No. 3 pick. Portland ended up trading the pick, but there was legitimate talk at that time. It really didn’t get that close, but there were some serious discussions. "Then before we got KG (Kevin Garnett) and Ray (Allen), we talked a lot with Paul. We knew we sort of needed to go one way or the other — that we loved him and wanted him, but if we weren’t able to do something to upgrade the team around him, then maybe it was time. That was toward the end of the ’07 season.
Since then, the team has fully backed Pierce and surrounded him with top tier talent to win his first championship and make every effort to add another title to his resume.
I think that the similarities continue with Rondo. Yes, the Celtics have talked about trading Rondo (ironically also offering him up for Chris Paul). Sure, I'll bet that Danny Ainge would always listen if a team offered the moon for him. But when push comes to shove, the Celtics are all about surrounding Rajon Rondo with top tier talent and moving towards a championship.
So Rondo has seen the mature, veteran, been-through-it-all-and-then-some Paul Pierce up close and personal for years now. I'm sure he's had a few conversations with Paul about working through adversity and maintaining the proper team-first perspectives. Rondo's buddy Kevin Garnett is another that has been around the block a few times and seen the good with the bad.
It is just that there are so many similarities between Rondo and Pierce's career paths that I can't help but hope that Rondo can one day be considered one of the all time Celtics greats. He's already helped the team to one Banner. Here's hoping that he can add another one or two along the way. And if one of them happens to help Paul Pierce get another ring, well, that would just be poetic.