Simmons: Rajon Rondo and the Ewing Theory

Bill Simmons has a pretty epic article up in Grantland where he takes us through the now extremely well-trafficked Rondo scenario (rehashing the two Rondo's nicely in a few paragraphs about Basic Cable Rondo and National TV Rondo). And then he applies the Rondo situation to The Ewing Theory, which he originally wrote about in May 2001, and which stems from the question:

How can a franchise prosper after losing three of the biggest stars in baseball? How does this make sense?

This might have been better as a forum post, but I thought it worth taking a few quotes from the article and seeing what the CB community thinks of it. So here is Simmons explaining the genesis of it, from a friend of his... (the bold is the text from his original article, and the non-bold are his comments now, in reference to Rondo).

The theory was created in the mid-'90s by Dave Cirilli, a friend of mine who was convinced that Patrick Ewing's teams (both at Georgetown and with New York) inexplicably played better when Ewing was either injured or missing extended stretches because of foul trouble.

The most common misperception of the Ewing Theory is that some think it was created because we thought the Knicks had a better chance of winning a title without Ewing. Not true. Ewing was only the CATALYST for the theory, and it was as simple as Dave wondering, "Do Ewing's teams always seem to play better when he's on the bench, or am I crazy?" We should also mention that (a) the '84 Hoyas won the NCAA title, and (b) there's no way the Gold Club trial would have been better without Patrick Ewing.

I hadn't heard of the Ewing Theory before reading this article... I am just learning to appreciate the fullness of Simmons' art in the craft of sports journalism. So I'll just leave this with another short quote, which provides great context for the analysis...

Eventually, we decided that two crucial elements needed to be in place for any situation to qualify for "Ewing" status:

• A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest, and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).

The 2008 Celts won the title with Rondo as their fourth-best player. They made the 2010 Finals with him as their third-best player, and came within one win of making the 2012 Finals with him as their best player. Rondo's case loses major steam here.

• That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency or retirement) — and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.

When those elements collide, you have the Ewing Theory.

My gut feeling on Rondo's 2013 case: If we're measuring it just by those two elements, then no, he's not eligible. The Celtics enjoyed too much success with Rondo. And they DID win the title with him. I don't think he qualifies. You'll understand why as we keep going.

Read it all here...

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