[Moderated by Matt Jones]
The classic case of ultra-talented player vs. his college coach.
Here at Kentucky, we love our former players like they were our own family members. Most of them, anyways. So my question for you is… Is Rajon Rondo one of those “family” former players?
For me, not so much. Hear me out.
There have been players in Kentucky basketball history who have frustrated me – Randolph Morris, Terrence Jones during his freshman year, etc. Rondo definitely fits into that category for me. He wasn’t a team player the way a point guard should be. To be a successful point guard in the college game, you have to be able to distribute to your teammates and lead the offense in a responsible way. You have to be able to listen to your coach, even when that coach’s playing style doesn’t coincide with yours.
And that’s why Rajon Rondo was not a great college player. He was a good player, and we saw flashes of his unbelievable talent and athleticism while he was at UK, but I can’t ever really consider him a great college basketball player.
None of that is why I dislike Rondo. And it’s not that I dislike him – it’s just that I don’t revere him as much as other former players who have put on the Kentucky uniform during my lifetime.
His attitude, his “me-first” philosophy, his non-coachibility and his borderline insubordinance are the problems I have with Rondo. These are all qualities that have at least somewhat showed themselves once again during his time as a pro.
This whole article was inspired by this video, where someone put together clips of all the things Rondo has done after getting the ball at tipoff. The showboat nature of the video just irked me for some reason, and it was just another example in a long line of attitude issues with the former Cat.
The thing with Rondo is that he could have been great in college. With all of his athleticism and his basketball IQ, he had the potential to be something truly special at UK. He broke a couple of steals records and he had flashes of brilliance but was never mature enough to accept coaching, or to put the team ahead of his desire to create his own highlight reel. His eyes were on the NBA from the very beginning, and it showed. His conflicts with Tubby’s playing style were well-documented and perhaps exaggerated. But they were there, nevertheless.
Granted, I think that Tubby could have slightly adjusted his style of play to better fit his star point guard who was better in the open court and the fast-paced game. But coaches are supposed to adjust to their players in the NBA – a players’ league. For now at least, college basketball is still the coach’s game, and I think that when you’re a 19- or 20-year-old kid, you need to accept the coaching that you’ve been blessed with. Not everybody gets the chance to play basketball at Kentucky, and I think that Rondo sometimes took it for granted. He could have done so much with that opportunity, both for himself and for Kentucky as a whole, but he didn’t.
The attitude problems persisted throughout his professional career, even prompting Celtics manager Danny Ainge to say that the player “had to grow up” during Rondo’s cries for either a bigger contract or a trade a couple of years ago.
Reports also surfaced that Rondo was late to meetings and even to a playoff game – all reflections of a spoiled player whose head is too big for his own good. Harsh words? Maybe, but Rondo’s attitude has continually cropped up in both his college and the professional careers.
Many love to claim Rondo as a Kentucky player (and Kentucky native) because of his huge success as an NBA player. And let’s face it: We always knew he was going to be a great pro point guard. It’s what he was born to do. But it’s what Rondo did at the University of Kentucky that counts for me when it comes to my love for him. And his attitude as a Wildcat and lack of effort for the team is what did it for me.
It could be that I’m being harsh and that I’m irrational, but I was just recently reminded of Rondo’s college career, and it stirred up some old emotions. What say you, Cats fans?
Follow me on Twitter where I’m usually not this mean… @AshleyScobyKSR
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