Rajon Rondo, as expected, has received a one game suspension for chest-bumping referee Marc Davis and will unfortunately miss Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Atlanta Hawks. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise as league rules state that if a player or coach intentionally physically contacts an official, it is an automatic suspension of at least one game. Watching the replay over and over, it is completely evident that Rondo did trip on the back of official Marc Davis’ foot and that did slightly propel him closer to Davis. But where the controversy arises from is the chest-bump he gave Davis. It’s there for everyone to see, Rondo puffed his chest out and gave him a small blow. You can see him move his pelvis and see him pull his shoulders back, which are two moves that he was definitely in control of, and was not a result of him tripping.
It definitely was not a good look for Rondo. He quickly turned around, yelled at Davis, clapped his hands in front of his face, and then gave him a chest bump. If he had done that to a player, this wouldn’t even be a matter of debate, but the league protects their officials, and as expected, gave him a one game suspension. Let’s not forget that Rondo is a repeat offender, and was put in timeout for two games earlier this season for throwing a ball at a referee. If this occurred in the regular season, Rondo would probably have gotten two or three games off, but being the playoffs, thankfully Stern understood that the stakes were too high to give a multiple game suspension. Stern has to protect the referees and the image of the NBA, but he can’t interfere with the on court results to a certain extent. The players need to decide the result, not the referees, and not league officials.
It is because of Rondo’s fire and mental breakdowns, like what happened in Game 1, that so many trade rumors surrounded him earlier in the season. I love Rondo and was strongly against trading him, but it is because of blow-ups like this that Ainge was open to shipping him out of Boston. I personally like Rondo’s fire and how competitive he is, he just needs to learn how to harness that emotion and further use it to dominate the basketball court. Rivers, being a player’s coach, backed Rondo when asked about his mentality. Put money on who you think will win next at TopBet.com.
“Rondo’s an emotional player,” Rivers said. “I’d rather tend to a fire than start one. I like his fire. And sometimes it burns you. You know what I mean? I like the
fire that he has. Someone asked the question: Why was he involved? Because he’s into the game. He’s a fighter for his team. You didn’t want him to go that far, obviously. It’s just who he is. It’s also what makes him great. It’s that fine line that you gotta walk and every once in a while he crosses it.”
It hardly even needs to be addressed how much of a negative impact this will put on the Celtics. It’s been said all year and two years before, Rondo is the engine that makes the Celtics run. He’s the team’s best player and makes the whole offense work. He’s really the only reason why the C’s even had a chance to win in game one. Now, the burden falls on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett’s shoulders. In order to win Game 2, KG and Pierce will have to have throwback games. Pierce will most likely play the role of facilitator and will try to replace Rondo’s assist production. Pietrus needs to find his shot and knock down some threes, Bradley needs to keep his high level of defensive intensity, Stiemsma needs to stay out of foul trouble, Bass needs to come back to life, and hopefully Dooling or Sasha can get hot. It’s not decided whether or not Ray will be a go, but my guess is that he will not play (it really is unfortunate Ray can’t get healthy and a shame he can’t help contribute on the Big 3’s last stand).
All in all, Rondo’s mental collapse could possibly cost the C’s Game 2 and that will really put pressure on this team. IF we lose the series the blame will no doubt fall on Rondo’s shoulders. Do I love Rondo’s game and what he does for the Celtics? Yes. Am I furious that he had a breakdown and got suspended? Yes. In a season where this team has faced so much injury and so much adversity, this really is the icing on the cake. When will this team, for once, make it easy on themselves?
Let’s hope the C’s come out firing and steal Game 2 from the Hawks, then head back to Boston and have Rondo play and dominate like we all know he can. Rondo is going to be playing to prove something when he returns, and when Rondo is angry and on the big stage, he’s one of the best players, not just point guards, in the NBA. We’ll see that fire again in Game 3, and let’s just hope he can be in control of his emotions and help the Celtics get their playoff run back on track.