Doc Rivers learned a lot about point guard Rajon Rondo when the two were with the Boston Celtics. But a couple of things stood out to Rivers.
“He’s a debater, he’s a contrarian, there’s no doubt about it,” Rivers said Friday. “I told him a long time ago he should go into politics. He’d win all of the debates.”
Rivers was Rondo’s coach in Boston from 2006-13. The two won an NBA title in 2008.
It’s no secret that Rondo and Rivers had their fair share of debates, and that the former was sometimes contrary to what the latter had to say. Rivers , though, subscribes to the theory that arguments between two parties who are trying to reach the same goal are good for the soul.
“I’ve always thought, and it’s crazy, I’ve said it before, if you argue that means you’re closer,” Rivers said. “When you don’t argue is when you have separation, and I’ve always thought that.
“If there are issues on a team and no one is talking about it — but they know they’re there — then you’re not a very close team. The close teams are the teams that actually get in the arguments and fight and argue it out, because they’re comfortable enough with each other to do it.”
On Feb. 24, Rondo, now the Dallas Mavericks’ point guard, felt comfortable enough to get into a profanity-laced exchange with coach Rick Carlisle during a game against the Toronto Raptors. Then again, that is normal to Rondo, who said he’s gotten into it with basically all of his coaches, including his football coach when he was around 6.
From Rivers’ standpoint, there’s a fine line a coach must walk with Rondo.
“Rondo is strong-willed, but he’s a good kid, and I think people get that mixed up,” Rivers said. “He’s got an amazing amount of passion, and he is a ssssmmmaaarrrttt player. I mean, smart. So that stuff happens.”
Clippers forward Glen “Big Baby” Davis said it’s clear that Rondo is simply misunderstood.
“I think Rick Carlisle has to know Rondo, and he just doesn’t know Rondo,” said Davis, who was Rondo’s teammate in Boston from 2007-11. “Rondo is the type of player, you know you want him to do this, you want him to do that, and he’ll make sure it gets done. You’ve just got to tell him what his options are out there, because he’s sort of like a quarterback.”
A quarterback who, Davis says, must be given free reins to run the offense.
“In my years playing with [Rondo] what I recognized the most is the way he’s a floor general on the court,” Davis said. “He knows how to manage a game, get the ball into the right people’s hands at the right time.
“And he’s the type of player you can let him go out there and just play, and let him coach the game, also. I think that’s what’s great as far as policing the players and making sure they do the right things on both sides of the ball, and he’s just really, really good at that.”
Mavs on target
▪ The Mavs had gone 17 consecutive games shooting under 50 percent from the field until their 60.7 mark Friday night.
In 11 of the past 16 games, the Mavs had shot less than 45 percent from the floor.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760