Baxter Holmes used to cover the Boston Celtics for the Boston Globe, which is where he first met Rajon Rondo. Not long ago, Holmes moved to Los Angeles and took a job with ESPN, ostensibly covering the Lakers, but also doing other things.
Other things like this new, lengthy profile of Rondo for ESPN: The Magazine. The story starts with Kevin Garnett describing a fight Rondo had with former Celtics coach Doc Rivers. (Garnett had to carry Rondo out of the room to keep him away from Rivers.) Holmes also talked to several other coaches who’ve worked with Rondo at various stages of his career, along with former teachers, trainers, a slew of former teammates, and Rondo’s personal statistician. (I’ve been meaning to get one of those.) They all describe a smart but caustic man, bored easily when he isn’t adequately challenged, and quick to dismiss anyone he doesn’t think is smart enough, which seems like most people.
The story gets into the specifics of the on-the-court spat between Rondo and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle earlier this season. There’s also a brief reference to Rondo’s now-famous Connect Four predilections:
Rondo would play on their porch, decimating friends and family deep into the night while his mother worked the graveyard shift at the Philip Morris factory to support her four kids. “If you did win once, he would beat you five or six more times to let you know he was the best,” says Dymon, his younger sister. (Rondo’s Connect Four prowess has since become legendary and has made for heartwarming-yet-awkward community outreach moments. The day he was traded to Dallas in December, he spent his final hours as a Celtic at Boston Children’s Hospital, crushing all comers in the game, repeatedly telling kids, “No mercy.”)
I think we can all hope that after reading the story, Rondo and Carlisle are communicating better. The entire thing is worth checking out.