In 2006, after his sophomore year at University of Kentucky, Rajon Rondo declared for the NBA draft. Even though he had proved himself to be a great talent with unbelievably large hands, long fingers, great ball-handling skills, speed and quickness, some scouts questioned his leadership skills and his shooting ability. But there was one team that couldn’t keep its eyes off of him: the Boston Celtics.
Danny Ainge, the President of Basketball Operations and a former NBA point guard, saw something great in Rondo. “We believe Rondo has a chance to be a special player,” Ainge said at the time. “We wouldn’t have done the deal if we didn’t think he has the chance to be the quality of a player of an Al Jefferson, a Gerald Green… those kinds of players.”
Rondo made his first start with the Celtics on Feb. 2 as the team lost their 14th straight game. He played well, with 23 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals, but did not secure his starting position until March 9. He then started in 22 of Boston’s final 23 games.
“I didn’t know what to think when he got here,” said Celtics’ Coach Doc Rivers. “But I saw a player with a high IQ who was willing to put in the work.”
Rondo gave the Celtics just what they wanted. In his second season, he started in 77 games, including all 26 playoff games. In the Celtics’ final game, Rondo had 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals as Boston defeated the Los Angeles Lakers at home for the 2008 NBA Championship – the franchise’s 17th overall.
The 6-foot-2 point guard from Louisville, Kentucky has been razzling-and-dazzling ‘em since the end of his rookie season, and he just keeps getting better and better. Now, he is the face of the most storied franchise in NBA history.