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By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor - Archive - Email
Rondo needs to be better than that
Rajon Rondo was the antagonist in Wednesday's melee with the Nets and Kris Humphries.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It may be possible that Rajon Rondo doesn't have a clue how important he is to the Boston Celtics.

The scarier realization is that maybe he does know, but just can't control himself.

Either way, Rondo's actions in Wednesday night's fracas with the Brooklyn Nets will once again cost Rondo and his team.

On Thursday, it won't matter what Rondo knows about himself or his importance to the Celtics. He will probably be missing a few games for his team.

Rondo was the antagonist in Wednesday's melee with the Nets and Kris Humphries. He is likely to get suspended for his actions and if you don't believe me in assessing the blame to Rondo, maybe you'll believe the guy in charge of sorting it out.

"Rondo initiated everything that proceeded after (Humphries') foul," Wednesday's referee and crew chief James Capers told a pool reporter.

Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett on a fall-away jumper and Garnett hit the floor. It was a hard foul and anytime a player is in the air, there's a possibility of harm.

After Garnett hits the ground, Rondo comes in a starts a "fight" with Humphries that spills into the stands at the TD Garden. That carries an automatic ejection.

Was the response proportionate to the foul? No, it wasn't and if you don't believe me in assessing the blame, maybe you'll believe the injured party.

"Just a hard foul," Garnett said of Humphries' foul. "I thought the antics after it were a bit extra, but it was a hard foul."

It was a hard foul and maybe the response should've been something closer to a face-to-face and some blue language.

What Rondo created probably didn't harm the Celtics too badly on Wednesday night. They were getting clobbered already and eventually lost the game.

That is what bothered Celtics' coach Doc Rivers the most. It wasn't the physical fight, it was the lack of fight his team showed on the court.

"I don't think anybody should get thrown out of a game," Rivers said after the game. "We all have to keep our emotions, you know. I mean, hell, we didn't come to play; as a team, that was awful, basketball-wise. I thought, if I'm Brooklyn and the league, you've got to think we're pretty soft the way we're playing. We're a soft team right now; we have no toughness. And that stuff's not toughness. All that stuff, that's not toughness."

But Rondo is definitely going to be suspended for his actions. He should be and this won't be the first time.

Rondo didn't like a call in Game 1 of last season's first round of the playoffs and got tossed from that game. He screamed at referee Marc Davis, then bumped him.

The Celtics were four points behind the Atlanta Hawks with less than a minute to go in that Game 1. How can Rondo get himself ejected at that point, and by bumping Davis, how can he put himself in a position to be suspended, which he was for Game 2?

Emotions are powerful. There is no professional athlete, or human being, immune from anger. Gandhi probably got a little steamed if his soup came out cold.

And the Celtics have cultivated a family environment within their locker room. Garnett is the big brother and what's you reaction when you see big brother going down? Of course you're angry. And basketball-wise, yeah, maybe you need to send a message to the other team that we aren't going to be pushed around.

But Rondo needs to be better than that.

Fast-forward to Wednesday and Rondo is going to get multiple games for this. He has been deemed the cause of this ugly-looking situation. He has his own personal history going against him and he has to accept it.

Rondo isn't some dumb kid. He's 26 and in his seventh season in the league. You can't start a fight that pours into the stands. Probably should've never done it, but after the ugliness at the Palace years ago, you will get suspended and for a decent chunk of games.

And don't think Rondo's absence couldn't possibly hurt the Celtics. Let's say low-ball figure is three games. That could separate Boston in already much- improved Atlantic Division from first and fourth. That could mean a first- round matchup with the Heat and adios go the Celtics.

Boston can't roll the ball on the floor, put Rondo, Garnett and Paul Pierce out there and just expect to win anymore. The division has caught up. Brooklyn already owns two wins over the C's and the Philadelphia 76ers are 1-0 against their long-time rivals.

The Celtics have games against an improved Milwaukee Bucks and a home-and-home in back-to-back nights with Philly in their next four games. Too many losses pile up without Rondo and Boston, which is already fourth in the Atlantic in the early going, could be close to six or seven games out.

And Rondo even hurt himself with the ejection. His streak of 37 straight games with double-digits in assists was snapped. Rondo settled for a tie for second for the longest such streak. And if you don't think that matters to Rondo or the Celtics, remember Rivers inserted Rondo back in a game earlier this season to get to 10 assists.

Rondo is an elite player and embodies everything that used to be great about the game. He is a tenacious defender, excellent penetrator who genuinely cares more about getting his teammates involved than himself. He should be a perennial fixture in the top 10 in MVP voting.

Instead, Rondo has assumed the role of team policeman. That's not what the Celtics need from Rondo. They need him to do the job at which he excels and furthermore, they need to him to be on the floor as much as possible.

Rondo needs to be better than he was Wednesday night.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

- For the record, I think Rondo gets five games. The incident wasn't that awful, but with Rondo's history, the fact it went into the stands and the damning statement from the ref, I don't see too much leniency.

- The Lakers scored 77 points in a home loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. The general consensus is that the team needs to wait for Steve Nash to return before it can really start clicking on offense. I bet Mike Brown feels exactly the same way.

- Andrew Bogut announced that he had a more serious microfracture surgery on his ankle in April. Why did Bogut and the Warriors keep it a secret? Maybe the Warriors didn't want to look bad for trading for damaged goods? Deception is never the answer.

- Yay Wizards! Things won't get much better when John Wall returns. There just isn't a lot of talent there.

- According to ESPNNewYork.com, Amare Stoudemire is willing to come off the bench when he returns. That's good news, I suppose, but what choice would Stoudemire have? If he makes a stink about starting, after the great basketball the Knicks are playing, he'd be the most selfish player in the NBA and that is saying something. That being said, the Knicks would trade Stoudemire in a nanosecond.

- The Houston Rockets flew to Minnesota for head coach Kevin McHale's daughter Sasha's funeral on Wednesday, then flew to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder in James Harden's return to his old team. The Rockets lost, but that's a rough day. The Rockets, and interim head coach Kelvin Sampson, deserve a lot of credit. They are 7-8 and, in addition to acquiring Harden about a half hour before the start of the season, Sasha McHale's death and Kevin's absence, they've dealt with the Royce White situation off the court. Wonder if this run, where Sampson is 4-5, puts him at the top of head-coaching lists.

- Movie moment - I'm so delighted that we are through the final installment of the "Twilight" series. Admittedly, I've seen two of them, and if you get past the paleness of the stars and the inevitable questions of how a family of vampires can get approved for a mortgage, the movies are embarrassing. I laughed out loud in the theater once and was scolded by high-schoolers. I don't care. They are horrendous. Good riddance.

- TV moment - I'm sure that kid from "Two and a Half Men" is going to donate the $50 million or so he's made from that "filth" to his new church, right? Listen, no one should watch "Two and a Half Men" to begin with, but Angus T. Jones' rant makes me want to.


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