DALLAS – At the tender age of 22 and in just his second season in the NBA, Rajon Rondo suddenly found himself running one of the most storied franchises in the history of sports.
In the 2007-’08 season, after Boston traded away Sebastian Telfair and Delonte West, the Celtics handed the key to their offense to Rondo and made him their starting point guard. That was a bold move on the Celtics’ part, considering grisly veterans Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were the team’s cornerstone, and Doc Rivers was the franchise’s legendary coach.
But Rondo hopped right into the fray and fit right in, and the Celtics went on to win the NBA championship that season.
"I’m very grateful for the situation I was in,’’ Rondo said. "Being put in that situation at a young age has helped me become the player I am today.
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"Being around so many veteran guys. And like I said, their work ethic, along with Doc Rivers coaching me and staying on my butt all the time, he pushed me probably the most I’ve ever been pushed by a coach before.’’
Other than winning the title, Rondo cherished many moments during his eight-plus years with the Celtics.
"My fond memories are probably just the camaraderie with my teammates,’’ he said. "The relationships I still have with the guys that played on the past teams -- not even just the championship team.
"The teams with Keyon Dooling, P.J. Brown, Marquis Daniels. I still continue to talk to those guys about the relationships you build throughout life."
Rondo was traded to the Dallas Mavericks from the Celtics on Dec. 18. And he will be back in Boston at 6:30 p.m. Friday when the Celtics (11-18) entertain the Mavs (23-10).
Thus, Rondo will be talking to some of the Celtic players he built relationships over the years. He may even discussed how his experiences with the Celtics helped prepare him for the task he ahs now at directing the Mavs’ offense.
"I believe everything happens for a reason,’’ Rondo said. "And me playing in that situation at a young age, I think it obviously helped my career, helped my game personally and it’s just part of it.
"I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had to play for the Celtics. I’m here with the Mavericks now and I’m playing with a lot of talent around me as I have in the past, so I’m just very excited to be in this situation again.’’
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760