The Heat and the Thunder will face off tonight in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The result of said Game 1, and likely the series, seems to rely on the battle of wills between Kevin Durant and LeBron James. After the series is said and done, we may finally know which star’s heart is bigger. But anyone who has followed the Playoffs thus far will recognize that the man with the biggest heart of all, the most ruthless edge, and the strongest will is forced to watch the games from the sidelines. That man is a spurned, defeated, and seemingly dejected Rajon Rondo.
Rondo’s thrilling season-long show came to a bitter end on Saturday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Despite a sterling effort that included 22 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds, Rondo’s Celtics fell to an overpowering Heat squad. And then, in what many labeled yet another immature antic, Rondo stormed off the court, refusing to congratulate his victors. Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were seen hugging the boys from Miami, wishing them well. They were maintaining their positive veteran image. Like old men tend to do, they were having a nice leisurely chat with old friends. The scorn and anger had already passed by and the battle was long-forgotten, mere moments after its end.
But not for Rondo. For Rondo, there would be no congratulations, no well-wishes, and certainly no leisurely chats. He was a man without a friend in the world. He was a winner without a win.
He’s been criticized for a lack of sportsmanship, and even his most loyal supporters wondered why he couldn’t live up to the friendly demeanor of his teammates. Many have questioned why he laments a well-fought loss that exceeded all expectations. They cry foul that he’s immature, irresponsible, and by all definitions, a sore loser.
But to this observer, Rondo is exactly what the Celtics need. He’s the man who refuses to lose. He’s the guy who can’t accept defeat. Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett have seen too many losses and have come to accept their demise all too easily. On the average night, in a normal game, congratulating an opponent and having a few laughs is quite alright. On the other hand, when the stakes are this high, when a title is on the line, and when it might be a guy’s very last chance to win it all, a little sore loser is welcome.
Because Rondo isn’t a sore loser at all. He’s made some mistakes, he’s hard to read, and his past isn’t spotless. But Rajon Rondo is still a winner. His emotions burn bright, and he leaves it all on the court. He’s really just a winner who lost and let the world see.
Filed Under: Basketball
About the Author: Corey Tincher is a lifelong Kentucky fan and professional writer who couldn't keep the two worlds apart. He is the lead contributor for StraitCats.com and literally wrote the book on the 2012 NCAA Tournament Championship run, Big Blue Articles: Kentucky Basketball in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Follow @Corey_Tincher on Twitter for more Kentucky news and discussion.