Back in September, Rondo tabbed best friend Kendrick Perkins and former Patriot Wes Welker as two of his greatest influences in overcoming the knee ailment. He also cited Tony Allen - and T.A., the former Celtic now starting in Memphis, spoke about Rondo's injury tonight as the Grizzlies visited the TD Garden.
"He called me when he first got injured," Allen said of Rondo. "I encouraged him to come back when he's 100 percent. I compared it to when I came back from mine - I came back too early, and I had to sit back down for about three more weeks. I can remember that like yesterday. I'm just hoping he can take his time with it, but go 100 percent in his rehab."
Allen's injury occurred on Jan. 10, 2007, in the midst of the Celtics' pseudo-tanking season that culminated in the No. 5 draft pick and the Kevin Garnett trade. The young swingman foolishly attempted a monster dunk after a whistle had already sounded, and it cost him dearly. Allen landed awkwardly on his knee, tore both the ACL and MCL, and his season was over in a flash.
He was back within only nine months, playing alongside Garnett, Rondo and the rest of the C's early in the '07 preseason.
While the quick comeback may have been a mistake, it still exemplified the hard work that Allen put into his recovery. He said he put in a lot of time playing 1-on-1, practicing in spots, and mostly just spending a lot of time working in the weight room with strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo. Getting his body right was the first step.
For his part, Rondo is currently in those same stages of a comeback. He's been seen running the floor in practice, getting in reps here and there, and working toward an eventual return.
The question is, how do you know when it's time?
Allen shared his answer.
"I always used to tell myself, 'I'm back when I can throw down a breakaway dunk," Allen said. "I remember being on the break one time - we were playing the Utah Jazz. I caught the ball and did a windmill. Had I missed it, I'd have known I wasn't ready. But I made it, and I felt like I was back."
Time will tell when that moment comes for Rondo. Allen, his former teammate, is rooting for it to happen sooner rather than later.