The same ESPN writer who said NBA players don’t want to play with Rajon Rondo, ESPN Insider’s Jeff Goodman, spoke with SB Nation’s Celticsblog.com today to discuss his thoughts on Rondo, particularly in relation to Rondo’s peers. Goodman was pointedly asked why he publicly derides Rondo’s leadership ability and espouses the theory some NBA players don’t want him as a teammate.
Before we get into what Goodman told Celticsblog.com, first we have to mention Dime’s interactions with Rondo both on camera and off. After talking with one of Dime’s co-founders, he said that the idea Rondo has interpersonal problems with those around him could not be further from the truth — at least based off what he’s seen. Rondo’s comported himself with class whether the cameras were rolling or not, and that’s why the recent allegations from Goodman ring hollow for some — particularly Dime’s founder.
Of particular note is Goodman’s lack of named sources, or players who will go on the record with their thoughts about playing with Rondo. This might lead some to feel Goodman’s line of thinking is unprofessional when discussing a player he covers: bad-mouthing a guy without a single verifiable source to back up his claims.
Like the world they inhabit, the NBA is increasingly more interconnected, something Goodman alludes to in his chat with SB Nation. To label a player as a sort of malignant tumor without the respect of his teammates, could actually lead to that misinformed opinion rippling out to affect other player’s reactions to him.
Enough preamble, here’s the first part of Goodman’s Q&A with Celticsblog writer Jeff Clark:
CelticsBlog: “What is your overall opinion of Rajon Rondo? If you were running or coaching a team, would you want him on it? (and why?)”
Jeff Goodman: “He is exceptionally talented. Let’s start there – and maybe that’s what frustrates me more than anyone else about him. He is so quick, has the potential (and we saw it early in his career) to be one of the elite defensive players in the world, and also the ability to make his teammates better. I have such high expectations. But he frustrates me for a variety of reasons – he doesn’t show much leadership ability, more often than not makes the flashy pass rather than the simple one, has not improved his perimeter shot – and doesn’t appear to care about being a great teammate (as some of his former coaches will attest to off the record). I would love to have him on my team – if I have established veterans who can make plays on the offensive end. For a team such as the one in 2008, he was the ideal point guard. KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were not only veterans who led the team, but were also offensive weapons that took the pressure off Rondo. Would I want Rondo? Sure, but it also depends on the team that surrounds him. I don’t feel that he’s the ideal fit with the current group – largely because he’s forced to be the leader and also needs to make shots (two of his weaknesses).”