By Danny Jaillet
BOSTON– In case any fans missed the memo, there was a basketball game taking place Wednesday night. A clash between the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics was occurring on the parquet floor of the TD Garden and it appeared that the two teams were taking the word “clash” to heart.
With 29.5 seconds left in the second quarter, Nets power forward Kris Humphries shoved Kevin Garnett as he was driving to the hoop, knocking him down. A brawl ensued with point guard Rajon Rondo being the first Celtic to get in the face of Humphries. Rondo ended up having to be restrained by an official and teammate Paul Pierce. I am not condoning fighting by any means, but in this case, something has to be said for his willingness to jump into the heat of battle and defend a teammate.
The fact that he was the first player to get into the middle of a fight and defend a teammate is commendable. Not every player has the ability to get into or end confrontations. Some players do not like to get into fights at all. What Rondo showed Wednesday was the ability to be a leader.
A leader defends a teammate and always has his teammates’ backs whenever they need support. As many have pointed out, Rondo has always been a leader. However, sometimes that aspect of his game was overshadowed on the court by the Big Three. People always considered them to be prime examples of leaders. They were indeed leaders, but so was Rondo. Maybe his quiet demeanor made people think otherwise, but his play in particular over the past couple of seasons really cemented his role as a leader of the Celtics. We saw it especially during the playoff series against the Miami Heat last year, when he put an injury-riddled Celtics team on his back and helped them advance all the way to Game 7 against a very talented Heat roster.
Even this season, he has been performing exceptionally well, recording double-doubles in multiple games. Last season, we saw him pass the basketball much more. This year, he is showing that he can pass and score, almost at will. His ability to drive to the hoop is much improved, and his strong skill set makes him a leader. Teammates look to him to control the place and flow of the offense and he is doing a masterful job at it.
Now, with his involvement in the brawl Wednesday , and the fact that he sacrificed a personal assist record for the betterment of the team, all signs point to him being a big part of the Celtics’ future both in terms of his basketball skills and leadership abilities. This is his team now. He is ready to take on the challenge and appears to be willing to put the team on his back and do whatever it takes to win. He will not tolerate any player disrespecting his teammates and will let opposing players know if he does not like what they have to say. The Nets learned that piece of information the hard way.