This time last year, then Hornets center Al Jefferson was suspended five games for failing a drug test. At the same time, Rajon Rondo was suspended one game for lobbing a homophobic-bomb at a NBA referee. There was something wrong with that bit of NBA justice if you are one to believe in equality. Because what Al Jefferson did was harm himself in private, and what Rajon Rondo did was bring shame onto another person in public. The two situations were vastly different, the crimes didn’t match up, nor did the responses (remorse) after the fact.
When caught red handed Al Jefferson made an eloquent apology, not just to his teammates, but to the fans of Charlotte for supporting him and he pledged to regain their trust. Rondo, when caught, lied that he had been offensive in the first place. Then, when an investigation deeper than the Zapruder film analysis was parsed so a bunch of different angles revealed there was no question what Rondo had said, his denial looked suspiciously like a lie and then he had to reverse course with the apology that wasn’t an apology, the oh so tired I didn’t mean to offend anyone.
Of course not. You just called a referee a f—–, you said it twice, you chased him down just so you could say it again but no harm, no foul, right?
Now Rondo has been suspended again for one game. It’s been a year since his previous suspension and frankly, Rondo has been on his best behavior but what does that really mean? He has been staying in his NBA player lane. He has been cooling it with the I-know-better-than-you, or just the general sulking, pouting and bringing negative energy.
This is who Rondo is so when you bring him onto your team this is what you are going to get. After leaving Boston, Rondo famously got into it with Rick Carlisle who basically kicked Rondo off the team during the playoffs. In Sacramento, Rondo was redeemed. No overly hostile attitude towards George Karl or DeMarcus Cousins. He was suspended by the league, not by the Kings, for his verbal assault upon a referee Bill Kennedy (who is indeed gay but had not made it public then) which doesn’t mean Rondo didn’t go Rondo at times but that the abuse was at a minimum. The Kings are too dysfunctional an organization to keep things hush hush. It would have leaked.
The timing of Rondo’s latest meltdown isn’t really surprising. The Bulls just played the Mavs. The Mavs have the worst record in the league. The Mavs were the team that traded for Rondo, saw the evidence of his non-conformity and petulance and to no one’s amazement (except Mark Cuban obviously), particularly the Celtics and Doc Rivers, it went off the rails pretty quickly. The Mavs ex-communicated Rondo during the playoffs. Go home. Goodbye.
Rondo, on his new team, a playoff team, was back at the scene of the crime on Saturday night, a place where he is viciously hated, almost as much as Lamar Odom, who also signed in Dallas and was less than ordinary. In Saturday night’s game, Rondo was horrible, 25%, 2 assists. No, horrible would be complimentary. He stunk. The Bulls were pummeled into submission.
In his 11th season, Rondo isn’t what he used to be but he still is a starting point guard for a playoff team. No, he can’t throw a penny in the Chicago River- he’s shooting 39.1% on the year. His assists are a nine year low. But he still knows how to orchestrate an offense. And obviously, he still knows how to be Rondo.
He’ll miss the Blazers game tonight and be back for the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday. If this surprised you, you haven’t been paying attention. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
photo via llananba