|Rajon Rondo makes his point and joins Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson in rare air||03.04.12 at 7:41 pm ET|
It’s almost as if Rajon Rondo wanted to make one final grand gesture to Danny Ainge that he’d be making a big mistake by trading him.
Rondo went out Sunday and posted the most impressive triple double in the NBA since Wilt Chamberlain in 1968, scoring 18 points, dishing out 20 assists and hauling down 17 rebounds in Boston’s 115-111 overtime win over the Knicks at TD Garden.
Chamberlain was the last player in the NBA to match all of those numbers when he had 22 points, 25 rebounds and 21 assists in a 131-121 Philly win over the Pistons on Feb. 2, 1968. Why is that comparison so significant?
Many NBA historians recall that as the best statistical game in league history, the only double triple-double ever recorded. Rondo was just two points and three rebounds shy of joining Chamberlain as the second ever with 20 in three different categories.
All the while the numbers were piling up, Rondo said he had no idea.
“No, I didn’t, honestly,” Rondo said. “Just tried to make some great play calling and just worked out that my numbers showed up like they did.”
One thing Rondo has been more than aware of lately are the trade rumors involving his name that don’t show any indication of quieting. If anything, Sunday’s game might just perk up the eyes and ears of a GM or two.
“[Rondo] was more than above average,” Kevin Garnett said afterward. “Trade talks are a really, really big motivator for him.”
Another hall of fame name was thrown around after the game Rondo had. Magic Johnson was the last NBA player with at least 17 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists in a game before Sunday. Johnson had 24 points, 17 rebounds and 17 assists on April 18, 1989.
“I’m just playing,” Rondo said. “The biggest thing is we got the win. You know, [Paul Pierce] made that shot to send us into overtime, and that was big for us. You know, if you get those type of numbers and you lose, it’s kind of irrelevant.”
Of all the great numbers he had, the 47 minutes and 47 seconds of playing time might have been the most impressive of all.
“I’m tired now. I wasn’t tired during the game. I had no time and no room to get tired.”
Which is probably why the Celtics can’t afford to trade Rondo. Without Rondo, the Celtics become just another aging team with big stars. With him, they have a difference-maker capable of taking over and making everyone better.
“I wouldn’t say I took over,” Rondo said. “I missed a lot of easy shots that I usually make but it was a great win for us tonight. Everyone stepped up, Ray (Allen) and Brandon (Bass), P (Paul Pierce), we all made special efforts when it counted.”
Doc Rivers knows he has a great thing in Rondo, a point who can call his own plays without help from the bench.
“He’s the smartest point guard I’ve ever been around,” Rivers said. “I don’t even look at his numbers. I look at the way we play. I think in his last four games, our offense has been terrific, we’re running great stuff. I thought we got away from it a little bit to start the third quarter. Then Rondo got us right back in it. He’s starting to make calls.”
“You guys may just see it now, but I’ve been calling a lot of plays,” Rondo added. ” And Doc and I have been going over plays for a couple years now. Each year, obviously, we get more confident and our chemistry grows but I’ve been calling my plays for a long time and that seems to work out for both of us.
“That’s an honor,” Rondo said of being the first guard to call his own plays under Rivers. “You know I think I’ve had to earn his respect and knowing my knowledge of the game, we’ve sat down a couple of times and just picked each other’s brain.”
Having avoided falling into eighth place in the East while putting the Knicks a game and a half back of them in the standings, it’s onward and upward for Rondo and the Celtics.
“Ever since the break, you know, it’s been a grind game for us,” Rondo said of the Celtics win streak, now at four games. “Regardless of who the wins come, we’ve been winning and that’s what it’s all about.”