№33: Rajon Rondo Player Spotlight | Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021) Part III

August 22, 2021

Welcome to the tedi.substack.com weekly newsletter! At the beginning of each week1, this newsletter will touch on any number of entertaining, informative, or (possibly) useful topics.

For week №33’s Player Spotlight, I did a really deep dive into the career of the Memphis Grizzlies’ newly acquired point guard—Rajon Rondo. Also check out Part III of my Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021)

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The concept behind my Player Spotlight segment was inspired by the writings of the late Zander Hollander (Sportswriter, archivist, and author of the ever informative The Complete Handbook of Pro Basketball) wherein he would write short and insightful entries on—then 20 something—NBA teams and their players for that particular season. With over 30 years of basketball knowledge under my belt, I decided to come up with my own short, free flowing, and non-linear/viewpoint narrative on a featured player. 

Rajon Rondo

Born Rajon Pierre Rondo (February 22, 1986) in Louisville, Kentucky. Rajon Rondo played two seasons with The University of Kentucky before being named as a member of the 12-man USA Basketball Men's Under-21 National Team that went on to capture the gold medal at the 2005 Global Games in Frisco, Texas. Rondo was also a part of the 2005 USA U21 National Team that traveled to Mar De Plata, Argentina to vie for the 2005 FIBA U21 World Championship. With tournament averages off 11.0 points, 4.5 assists, and 3.375 steals (a USA Men’s U21 World Championship Record that still stands to this day) over 8 games, Rajon’s play put him firmly in the radar of a number of NBA scouts.

With increased demands for a player’s autograph once they reach the NBA, it is not uncommon for a number of them to change or streamline their respective signatures. This Rajon Rondo 2006 Press Pass Certified Authentic Autograph - Gold [Red Ink] is an example of his signature prior to turning pro.

Season by season

After renouncing his last two years of college eligibility, Rajon Rondo was the first point guard to be taken off the board when the Phoenix Suns selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. However, in what only can be construed as a cost-saving maneuver2 3, the Suns traded Rondo to the Boston Celtics for forward/center Brian Grant, the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2007 first-round draft pick (24th overall | Rudy Fernández), and cash considerations.

During his rookie season (2006-2007), the Boston Celtics initially played Rajon behind Sebastian Telfair and Delonte West before gradually giving him more minutes prior to the All-Star break. At the conclusion of the regular season, Rajon Rondo was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team (averaging 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.6 steals—which tied him for 7th among the league’s leaders in steals). In his rookie class, Rondo was also among the leaders in steals (1st), assists (2nd), and minutes played (6th).

Prior to his sophomore season (2007-2008), the 24-58 Boston Celtics underwent a major revamp and traded away a total of 7 players, 3 first round picks (Jeff Green [2007, 5th overall], Jonny Flynn [2009, 6th overall], and Wayne Ellington [2009, 28th overall]), and a second round pick (Trent Plaisted [2008, 46th overall]) to the Seattle Supersonics and Minnesota Timberwolves. In return, the Celtics received the draft rights to power forward/center Glen “Big Baby” Davis [2007, 32nd overall], All-Star shooting guard Ray Allen, and the 2004 NBA MVP Kevin Garnett.

Christened “The Big Three” by basketball scribes—Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett—formed one of the most potent trios ever to grace the hardwood floor. Joining them on the court were Rajon Rondo—one of six holdovers from the 2006-2007 season—and center Kendrick Perkins who were elevated to full-time starters.

My first game at Madison Square Garden

With the club’s record at 32-6, I just happened to be at the Big Apple and the Boston Celtics were in town to face-off against the New York Knicks. January 23, 2008—my first (and only) game ever at Madison Square Garden. Here are some Rondo highlights that I was able capture with my digital camera.

Rajon Rondo and the Boston Celtics would finish the regular season with a 66-16 record—a 42-game improvement from 2006-2007 and the best single-season turnaround in NBA history. Despite their apparent regular season success, the Celtics played 26 out a possible 28 games before capturing their first NBA Championship in 22 years4 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Entering his third year in the association (2008-2009), Rondo would elevate his play and record his first two career triple-doubles against the Indiana Pacers (16 points, 13 rebounds, and 17 assists) and Dallas Mavericks (19 points, 15 rebounds, and 14 assists). By the end of the 2008-2009 regular season, Rajon would rank among the league leaders in assists (8.2) and steals (1.9). Without an injured Kevin Garnett for their playoff run, Rajon Rondo would step up and record his first three career playoff triple-doubles (two of them coming in back-to-back games against their first round opponent—the Chicago Bulls). However, the Celtics title defense would come up short after losing to the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Rondo would finish the postseason with averages of 16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.8 assists.

Four games into the 2009-2010 NBA season, Rajon Rondo would come to terms on a five-year $55 million dollar extension with the Boston Celtics. The Celtics lead guard would go on to average career highs in points (13.7), assists (9.8), field goal percentage (50.8%), and steals (2.3) for the season as well as be named as a reserve to his first NBA All-Star game. Rajon also became the first Celtic ever to lead the league in swipes per game. In the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics played 24 out of a possible 28 games before falling to their longtime rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

Over the course of the next three seasons, Rondo would go on to tie or break a number of assist records. Among them were recording 50 assists through the first three games of the season (tied with John Stockton), registering 67 assists through the first four games of the season (NBA record), and logging in 82 assists through the first five games of the season (NBA record). He and the Detroit Pistons Isiah Thomas are also the only players in NBA history to record a triple-double with 24 or more assists.

During the final 24 games of the 2011-2012 season, Rajon Rondo—the NBA’s assist king—would go on to dish out 10 or more assists per game—a Boston Celtics franchise record. The active streak would continue into the 2012-2013 season and Rondo would go on to tie John Stockton’s record of 37 straight games5 on November 25, 2012. However, in the Celtics next game against the Brooklyn Nets, Rajon Rondo would get involved in an altercation that resulted in him getting ejected along with the Nets forwards Kris Humphries and Gerald Wallace. Rondo finished the game with only 3 assists which ended the second longest active streak (tied with John Stockton) in NBA history. Rajon Rondo was voted as the starting point guard for the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Star team, but was unable to participate in the All-Star Game after suffering a partially torn right Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) on January 25, 2013 against the Atlanta Hawks. Despite the season ending injury, Rondo still led the NBA in assists for the second consecutive season.

Almost a year of since his injury, Rajon Rondo returned to the Boston Celtics starting lineup on January 17, 2014. He was also named the 15th captain6 in Celtics history.

After 26 games into the 2014-2015 season, Rajon Rondo and rookie power forward/center Dwight Powell were traded to the Dallas Mavericks for small forward/power forward Jae Crowder, point guard Jameer Nelson, power forward/center Brandan Wright, a protected 2015 first-round pick (which was eventually conveyed in 2016 when the Celtics took Guerschon Yabusele with the 16th overall pick) and a 2016 second-round pick (Demetrius Jackson | 45th overall). Rondo’s stay in Dallas was tumultuous at best and ended with both parties parting ways after he was benched during the playoffs.

For one reason or another, Rajon would go on to play for four teams over the next five seasons7 (2015-2016 to 2019-2020). In his lone season with the Sacramento Kings (2015-2016), Rondo would go on to lead the NBA in assists for the third time in his career (11.7) as well as set the King’s franchise record for triple-doubles in a season (6). In 2016-2017, Rajon Rondo played a big part in the Chicago Bulls 2-0 lead against the top-seeded Boston Celtics during their first round matchup. However, after breaking his right thumb in Game 2, he was ruled out for the rest of the series and the Bulls went on to drop the next four contests. After the season, Chicago opted to waive Rondo instead of picking up the second year of his deal.

The following season (2017-2018), Rajon Rondo would move on to the New Orleans Pelicans. On December 27, 2017, Rondo—flanked by Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Jrue Holiday—Rajon would go on to set the franchise assist record (25). In the process, Rondo became only the 7th player in NBA history to reach that mark after Ernie DiGregorio, Kevin Porter (twice), Isiah Thomas, Nate McMillan, Kevin Johnson, and Jason Kidd. At that time, he was the oldest player to register 25 assists in a game (31 years, 308 days) and accomplished the feat in the shortest amount of time on the floor (30 minutes).

In 2018-2019, Rajon Rondo signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and was expected to mentor (as well as compete with) sophomore point guard Lonzo Ball. On March 5, 2019, Rajon recorded his 32nd career triple-double (24 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists) against the Los Angeles Clippers. The feat moved him into 11th place on the all-time triple-double list (Note: Rajon currently sits at 13th all-time (tied with Ben Simmons) at the conclusion of the 2020-2021 season). Rondo also became the second player after Mark Jackson to record a triple-double with five different NBA franchises.

In 2019-2020, Rajon re-signed with the Los Angeles Lakers who went on to defeat the Miami Heat for the 2020 NBA Championship in the Orlando Bubble. It was Rajon Rondo’s second title. Having previously been a member of the Boston Celtics and now the Los Angeles Lakers, Rondo became only the second player to win a championship with both franchises (Clyde Lovellette). For the 2020 NBA playoffs, Rondo dished out 105 assists while coming off the bench—the most in a single postseason since 1971.

Almost two months later, Rajon Rondo signed a two-year $15 million dollar deal to play with the Atlanta Hawks for the 2020-2021 season. But on March 25, 2021, Rajon was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for former Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams, two second-round picks, and cash considerations.

On August 16, 2021, The Memphis Grizzlies acquired incoming sophomore center Daniel Oturu and point guards Rajon Rondo and Patrick Beverley in exchange for former Los Angeles Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe.

Should the 15-year veteran happen to open the 2021-2022 NBA season on the Grizzlies roster, Rondo would have officially played for 29% (9/30) of the teams in the association.

Review: Funko! Mystery Minis: The Suicide Squad (2021) Part III - Peacemaker (1:6) and Weasel (1:72)(August 12, 2021)

Interesting. This particular set of Funko! Mystery Minis is fast becoming a collection that was never intended to BE a collection.

Despite not having any inkling about The Suicide Squad (2021) movie a few weeks back, I took a flyer on the recently released King Shark (Nanaue) (1:6) and The Polka-Dot Man (Abner Krill) (1:12) Minis. The following week—with the movie’s release date fast approaching—I gambled on an additional three figures: Ratcatcher II with Rats (1:24), Javelin (1:36), and The Thinker (1:36).

Now, it’s these two guys: Peacemaker (1:6) and Weasel (1:72). Figures that at first glance don’t really move the needle but once you get to watch the movie—they become a priority.

In keeping with the theme of this section (from previous newsletters), here is what I know of these C, D, and E level criminals.

Peacemaker (1:6) - Prior to the movie…not a clue. Just that John Cena of WWE famed would be playing him in the movie and that he would be reprising his role in a Peacemaker television series come January 2022. Isn’t it cool that Cena is so into the role that he would appear in-character during public events like…

the film’s red carpet…

…and on late night shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Weasel (1:72) - Like Peacemaker, I am drawing a blank on this one. ■


About

Tedi Gustilo Villasor, Ph.D. is a former columnist for Baby Magazine (Philippines) as well as a past contributor to NBA.com/Philippines. His other works include the indie comic books Lindol and OBIsessions.

Click here for more information on his work as a psychologist.

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1

Unless something exciting comes up that necessitates an additional entry.

2

Coming off a 29-53 season, the Phoenix Suns retooled for the 2004-2005 NBA campaign by signing Steve Nash (6-years, $65.6 million) and Quentin Richardson (6-years, $43.5 million) to lucrative contracts. The financial commitment to these incoming players in addition to the one’s already made to the core of Amar’e Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, and Joe Johnson limited the Suns ability to spend (moving forward) without incurring luxury tax penalties.

There are a number of ways wherein teams can offset potential luxury tax penalties and the route that Phoenix decided to take was—for better or worse—to divest themselves of the guaranteed rookie scale contracts that automatically come with 1st round selections.

By rule, first rounders are guaranteed a potential four-year contract (the first two years are guaranteed and the team holds options on the third and fourth years of the deal) and the exact dollar value of these deals are usually determined by their draft position as well as the exact percentage that they ultimately sign for [between 80% to 120% of the contract the player in their draft position signed the year before].

3

Among the players that the Suns traded between 2004-2007 included Luol Deng (to the Chicago Bulls in 2004), Nate Robinson (to the New York Knicks in 2005), Marcin Gortat (to the Orlando Magic in 2005 | 2nd round), the aforementioned Rajon Rondo (to the Boston Celtics in 2006), and Rudy Fernández (to the Portland Trailblazers in 2007).

4

During the 1985-1986 season, the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets (4-2) in the NBA Finals—the club’s 16th NBA Championship.

5

The Utah Jazz point guard’s streak started on February 27, 1989 of the 1988-1989 season until November 29, 1989 of the 1989-1990 season. The Los Angeles Lakers’ Earvin “Magic” Johnson holds the record with a streak of 46 games spanning the 1982-1983 and the 1983-1984 seasons (April 13, 1983 - February 28, 1984).

6

The 15 captains in Boston Celtics history are: Bob Cousy (1950-1963), Bill Russell (1963-1969), John “Hondo” Havlicek (1969-1978), Dave Cowens (1978-1980), Larry Joe Bird (1980-1992), Reggie Lewis (1992-1993), Robert Parish (1993-1994), Dee Brown and Dominique Wilkins (1994-1995), Dee Brown (1995-1996), Rick Fox (1996-1997), Dee Brown, Pervis Ellison, and Antoine Walker (1997-1998), Antoine Walker (1998-1999), Antoine Walker and Dana Barros (1999-2000), Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce (2000-2003), Paul Pierce (2003-2013), and Rajon Rondo (2014). Since the start of the Brad Stevens era in Boston, the Celtics have yet to name another captain.

7

With the exception of the two-year $28 million dollar contract (partial guarantee on the second year of the deal) that he signed with the Chicago Bulls, Rondo has essentially been on one-year contracts with four teams over the last five years.

8

Again, only if something of interest comes up which would require an additional post.