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Rajon Rondo: Kevin Garnett ‘will be a big reason’ Celtics content for title

09.28.12 at 8:07 pm ET


WALTHAM — Kevin Garnett has taught Rajon Rondo how to be a leader.

That much was obvious two weeks ago when Rondo took it upon himself to invite Celtics players out to Los Angeles for a pick-up game/workout and a friendly game of flag-football. The reason? Team bonding.

Rondo made it clear Friday at Celtics media day how big of an impact Garnett has had on him in his career. Rondo said after losing Game 7 of the Eastern finals to the Heat in Miami, the first thing he did when he got on the bus was to ask Garnett if he were coming back.

“I can probably say Kevin is my closest friend on the team,” Rondo began. “Kevin always wants to see me do well. From Day 1, I think my second year when he first came in, he told me he would be disappointed if I wasn’t the MVP of the league one day, if I wasn’t considered one of the best point guards one day so he’s always pushed me and expected more out of me than a lot of people did. He’s always showed me how to become a better person each day. Whenever I mess up, Kevin’s always the one who tells me you should do this, or conduct yourself this way or handle it that way.

“He’s been kind of like a big brother/mentor and he’s always wanted the best for me so that’s how we sort of gravitated toward each other. Obviously, off the court, we have a lot of things in common. We share the same interests in a lot of things. He’s been like a big brother to me. The way he goes about the game, the way he approaches the game. He’s a future hall of famer, I consider one of the greatest players to ever play the game who’s been in front of me. So, he’s inspired me to work hard, come in every day, come in get extra shots, taking care of my body, getting proper rest, getting massages, getting treatment and getting stretching. This is how to have longevity in the NBA. He’s played for 17 years and only two or three players can say that in this era.”

As for those who doubt whether a 36-year-old Kevin Garnett can be productive, Rondo said Friday he knows better.

“I don’t take it personal because I’m not him but I kind of laugh when people say he’s old or he doesn’t do this or he can’t do that because if you know the game of basketball, it’s one thing but when you play with Kevin, he does so many little things that don’t show up in the stat book,” Rondo said. “When you play with another big guy that isn’t Kevin Garnett, you know what you’re missing out there on the floor. Obviously, in the playoffs he had a great run. If you look at the stats, the plus-minus when Kevin was on and off the floor, there was a big difference.

“Kevin does so many little things like pick-setting, loading to the ball, taking up the space on the defensive end, setting the right pick angles with me on the pick-and-roll so I don’t take Kevin for granted and our team doesn’t either. We value him very much and he’ll be a big reason why we try to win a championship this year.”

After an offseason filled with reports of a division between the departed Ray Allen and Rondo, there were questions about the chemistry on the team and Rondo. The point guard took it upon himself to make sure everyone is on the same page in camp.

“I think each year my role has expanded as far as being a leader, maturing every year and trying to accept the role more,” Rondo said. “The LA thing was just trying to get guys away from the [practice] facility before we start to work and get back focused and to focus for this championship. I actually wanted to go to Vegas at first but Vegas didn’t work out. Paul and Kevin were in LA and I just wanted to take everyone out there so we could play together, get a little bit of chemistry before we started and have a little fun.

“We ended it off with a flag football game. Of course we won. I passed [for] seven touchdowns.”

Read More: Boston Celtics, Kevin Garnett, KG, Media Day
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