It's been a decade since Rajon Rondo played with Detroit Pistons forward Josh Smith at Oak Hill Academy in southern Virginia - Smith graduated in 2004 and leapt right to the pros, while Rondo left to enroll for two years at Kentucky.
Smith is now a 28-year-old NBA veteran, and high school is distant in his rear-view mirror, but the Detroit star says he still keeps in close touch with his old childhood friend.
"We call each other every once in a while to check up and see how one another is doing," Smith said tonight before the Pistons took on the Celtics. "He's my best friend, especially in the NBA. We still talk all the time, and our families take vacations together. He's a very good friend."
As friends in the NBA often do, Smith talks to Rondo about the possibility of playing together in the league someday. The topic has been floating around for years now - talks heated up a year ago, with rumors of Smith being involved in a Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce blockbuster at the 2013 deadline, and again this season, with a Rondo/Greg Monroe idea being tossed around that would send the point guard to the Motor City.
Smith says that he and Rondo talk about it internally, as well.
"The conversation comes up," he admitted. "We always tell each other what a surreal moment that would be, for us to connect again. With the different free agencies that we have [Rondo comes off the Boston books in 2015; Smith is locked in through 2017], it could be far-fetched, but it could be possible. I tend to be an optimist."
For now, Smith will have to settle for watching Rondo from afar and getting the latest news via calls and texts. From Smith's perspective, Rondo is excelling in Boston this season despite having to endure a frustrating rebuild in the wake of losing Pierce and KG.
"I think he's doing a good job as a veteran leader on the team, both teaching guys verbally and showing them how to play the game," Smith said. "He's got a very high basketball IQ, and I think he's doing his due diligence to apply it and help those young guys learn how to win."