Rare bird - Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
BOSTON - Rajon Rondo dished out 20 assists over 32 minutes in Saturday's 107-89 win over the Raptors.
It sounds crazy, but a stat like that has become the norm around these parts when it comes to Rondo. Of course, nobody expects 20 assists, but the likeliness of it happening seems to increase on a nightly basis.
Rondo is a special player. You didn't need Saturday's game to prove it or confirm it. At this point, it's already a well-known fact. But how long did it take for members of the C's to figure out that he had the ability to do what he's doing now?
"Probably the third day," Kevin Garnett said. "After the third day when I first got here, we were playing pickup without you guys knowing, and you could see his potential from how he was dictating the pickup games. I'm not saying he was scoring the ball, but just he was dictating a lot of plays from both ends. I evaluate the game from not just the scoring perspective, but the defensive perspective too.
"I told him a long time ago when I first met him that he had the potential to do both, and it was up to him. Obviously you all see what this product is coming out to be. The future is whatever he wants it to be. I've always said with Rondo it's always between his ears. Consistency is everything, whatever you put into this, that's what you're going to get out of it. And he's doing a great job of it."
Garnett wasn't the only person to admit that it's "between the ears" with Rondo. Rivers was also asked how long it took before he realized Rondo was a special player.
"Probably the end of the first year," Rivers said. "I didn't know 'special', but I thought that he had a shot. I said early on I just thought it would be between the ears for him. The talent's there. He had feel when he walked in the door. You could just see it. Smart kid, and what he's done is I think mentally he's really grown as a player and as a person. And I think it's taken him to where he's at.
We see Rondo do crazy things with the ball and we marvel at the size of his hands. We watch him make a skip pass across the court and we commend his court vision. But the one aspect of Rondo's game that has improved more than any other since he's joined the league is his maturity.
Rondo's streak of 10-plus assists is now at 33 games. He's got just John Stockton and Magic Johnson ahead of him, and at this point it looks like they may have to move over. But not once did Rondo take credit for any of those assists -- "It means my teammates are making shots," he said.
When it comes to players who can rack up the assists like Rondo can, Rivers listed NBA greats Stockton, Magic, and Jason Kidd as guys who also could do it.
"But think about it," Rivers continues. "I've named four or five guys. The league's been around a long time. So it's not a lot, and he's one of them. He's a rare bird. I mean, he really is."
Questions used to surround Rondo on what it's like playing with three future Hall of Famers. Now, it's his teammates who are asked what it's like playing with him.
Hint: they love it. And it's showing up in the box scores and now in the win column. Now, Rondo answers to different types of questions.
"MVP is in the picture," Rondo said of the award. "I would like to be one day, but we just have to keep winning."
There's a reason he's a in a position to say something like that now.
"Well he wanted to be great, and he knew [that mental aspect] was the part that probably had to develop the most. But as you know, there's a lot of guys, they just can't. He can, and he did. So that credit goes to him."