The 2008 NBA Champion Boston Celtics featured one of the biggest single season turnarounds in wins, but it also featured a budding rivalry among teammates. After Ray Allen left for the then rival Miami Heat, Celtics fans quickly changed their opinion of #20. Former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins was on Sirius XM NBA radio and had some interesting tidbits to share between Allen and Rajon Rondo.
Perk said that there was discontent between the two after the Celtics thought about trading Rondo for New Orleans Hornets PG Chris Paul. Celtics captain Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett wanted to keep Rondo in Boston, but the third member of the big three thought the C’s should pull the trigger on a Rondo for Paul trade. Rondo caught wind of it and Perkins said it got physical between Rondo and Ray.
“We brought boxing gloves to the gym and they got on boxing gloves……we made them box it out like two rounds.”
In Allen’s book that came out a couple years ago he said that Rondo told his teammates he carried them to the championship in 2008.
Was Rondo important to the Celtics during the championship season? Yes, but this was the 2nd season for the former Kentucky Wildcat in the NBA, and he averaged 10.6 ppg and 5.1 apg. As Celtics fans remember, Rondo’s time in Boston was unique to say the least after he got into arguments with some teammates and then head coach Doc Rivers.
That was the downside of Rondo, but let’s not forget he had a great upside with the C’s. Three seasons in a row from 2010-2013 saw a double-double averaged with about 11 assists per game. Many fans will look at the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals as one of Rondo’s biggest Celtics moment. The point guard and the Heat’s Dwyane Wade chased after a loose ball and Wade fell on Rondo’s arm dislocating #9’s elbow. After some magic by team doctors, Rondo returned to the court just minutes later and finished the series averaging eight points and four rebounds after that nasty injury.
Ray Allen’s time with the Celtics featured five seasons averaging 41.2% from the three-point line and 16.5 ppg overall. Allen had two seasons with the C’s that saw him play 80 games, the first time since the 2001-02 season with the Milwaukee Bucks.
When Rondo started to gain momentum as an important part of the team and started to butt heads with Ray, Rondo was 22-23 years old while Allen was 10 years older, which is usually when NBA players start to wind things down. In Ray’s book he told Doc Rivers, after being offered a two year extension for $12 Million, “You want to pay me less money. You want to bring me off the bench. You want to continue to run the offense around Rondo. Now tell me again exactly why I would want to sign this contract.”
Allen didn’t sign his contract, instead choosing to sign with LeBron James and the Miami Heat for the final two years of his career, including one of the most clutch 3-point shots against the Spurs in Game 6 of the NBA finals.
Rajon Rondo was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Brandon Wright, Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder and draft picks. After one year stops in Sacramento, Chicago, and New Orleans, the former Celtics captain returned to Boston with the LA Lakers. Perhaps a satisfying moment for him was a buzzer beater against his former team that capped an 18-point comeback by Los Angeles.
Both might be hall of famers, and both were key parts of the Championship Celtics, but Ray and Rondo will have a large divide unfortunately for years to come.