Talking With Rajon Rondo
SLAM caught up with the All-Star point guard.
by Irv Soonachan
Rajon Rondo never lacks for confidence. When introduced at the Red Bull King of the Rock one-on-one basketball finals on Alcatraz Saturday night, he was asked what advice he had for the players. Surveying the cold, wind, and thick mist streaming in from the Pacific, he suggested that people try to score around the basket. Ninety minutes later – when it was clear his advice had been right, and perimeter players were mostly at a disadvantage – he was asked how a point guard such as himself would fare in these conditions. “I’d win,” he responded.
Rondo took a quick break from sitting courtside to give a couple of interviews, including this exclusive, on one condition: No questions about his departure from the USA World Championships team. Rondo had just discussed it with ESPN’s Ric Bucher, and apparently wasn’t in a mood to address it again.
SLAM: You’re no longer Rajon Rondo, point guard for the Celtics, you’re now Celtics All-Star Rajon Rondo. How has that changed things for you?
Rajon Rondo: More recognition, that’s about it. Now I really can’t go anywhere. But it’s a great thing, it comes with what I’ve done and the success. I just try to stay humble and get better.
Do you get mobbed in Boston, or is it everywhere?
So you can’t even do your own groceries anymore?
I will never not do what I do. I still love to go to the mall and shop. Even if I’m signing autographs I just try to keep moving. I’m pretty much always in a good mood, I try to continue to sign autographs and take pictures, but I move quickly when I do it.
What are you working on this offseason?
Everything, really. Every part of my game.
So you’re not going to give a sneak preview of the new wrinkles we’re going to see in your game?
I can say all I want to say, but until I go out there and do it… you’ll see.
Given how fast your career trajectory has been, how do you set goals for each year? Are there stats, or other goals?
It’s not necessarily stats, but there are goals. Last year I had a couple of goals: I wanted to be First-Team All Defense, and I got that; and I wanted to be an All-Star, and I got that as well. In terms of my goals, I reached all of them except winning the Finals, but I got pretty close.
For the individual awards I give my teammates a lot of credit, I know that I’m not an All-Star by myself. KG makes me look better because they double him off of me sometimes. Ray draws double teams when he comes off down-screens, and Paul does when he gets the ball isolated, so those guys make me look a lot better.
I’m pretty sure that people who don’t like my game are waiting to see how I react when I don’t have the Big Three, but I don’t really care. I’m doing what I can do now for the team, and that’s why I’m in this situation.
What are your goals for next year?
As a team it’s to try to win 60-plus games and to try to stay healthy. As long as we’re healthy I’m pretty fine with what we do on the court. We don’t have to win 70 games, but it would be nice to get the first-place position and the home court advantage, because who can say? I never look back and say what if, but if we had the home seed then maybe the outcome would have been different against L.A.
After going through Cleveland, Orlando, and then the long series against the Lakers, I thought you guys looked a little run down at the end of Game 7.
Yeah, but that wasn’t huge. We’re built for that type of game. I may have looked a little run down because I played so many minutes, but you’ve got to give credit to the Lakers. They won the game, simple as that. They deserved it.
What about your individual goals?
Individually, I want to be first-team all defense, I want to be an all star, and I want to win the NBA Finals.
In the Finals last year you wore different colored shoes than your teammates. What was that all about?
I just changed it up. I like to be different. I wasn’t going for attention or anything; I was just changing my shoes up. Actually, I wear a new pair of shoes every game for the most part.
You practice and play in two different shoes?
Yeah, when I practice and then I play it’s in two different shoes. I don’t have to break in my shoes. I like to bring a brand new box out and play.
What are some things you do that young players can adopt?
It’s about being in love with the game, and playing every chance you can get. Basketball is something you can play by yourself, you don’t need a partner or someone to catch the ball and throw it back. You can go out by yourself and continue to get better. I always kept a ball in my hand growing up, whether I was walking down the street or on the court. It’s just being in love with the game and continuing to play.
Is there anything specific you do to improve your speed, even though a lot of it is probably god-given?
No, not now. Like you said, a lot of it is probably natural, god-given ability. My mother ran track, and I probably take after her. My father ran track as well. It was an athletic family.