Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pierce, KG still keep an eye on Rondo

In just five days emotions will be running high at TD Garden when two players that know a little something about Celtic pride make their long awaited return to Boston for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Paul Pierce, who dressed in green for 15 seasons, became the second all-time leading scorer in franchise history before being traded to Brooklyn this past summer.

Kevin Garnett, who for six years revived the heart of Celtics Nation when he helped bring a championship in 2008 after the team’s 22 year drought. Banner 17 will hang above the parquet when these two teams meet this Sunday, but only one player remains on Boston’s current roster who helped raise it to the rafters.

As if you needed any more fuel to add to this already hyped reunion, ‘The Truth’ and the ‘Big Ticket’ will not only be facing their former team in an arena they called home for so long, they will be facing their former protégé, Celtic captain Rajon Rondo, for the first time this season.

It was announced Friday when he [Rondo] was introduced to the home crowd as the 15th captain in team history, the first since Pierce in over a decade. It should be a good one as it will be Rondo’s third home game since returning from a torn ACL and his sixth overall.

The two former Celtics were asked if Rondo being on the court will make their return mean that much more.

"Absolutely,” said Garnett. “That’s my little brother, man. We all grew together. When we grew, it wasn’t something we did minimally. We all gave all of ourselves to each other, and we grew in that. That connection, you grow with it through time, and it’s one of them connections that you look at as forever. [New York Post]

Pierce was not at all surprised that his former point guard has returned this soon since his surgery last February 13th.

"I mean, I expected him to be out there anyway,” Pierce said with a smile referring to the January 26th meeting. “I mean, I thought he would be back a lot sooner than this week. Obviously he’s just taking his time, making sure he’s 100 percent, which he should do, and I expect to be out there anyway.” [New York Post]

Rondo’s old teammates were excited to watch his return last Friday after their huge 127-110 win over the Hawks Thursday in London. The two made it back in time to New York to watch the Celtics take on the Lakers, of whom they had plenty of battles with throughout their careers.

KG expressed his concern for Rondo’s health after being out for 11 months.

“It’s always good to see your little brother, man,” Garnett said of the eighth year veteran. “I worry about his health. I know he wants to play. I know he wants to help that team. I know he’s eager to play… My only concern is always health-wise. Rondo knows his body, he knows himself. I’m just glad he’s still able to fulfill his dream and play the game that he loves. Anytime that’s first and foremost. Everything else is secondary.”

The Celtics lost to the Nets 104-96 back in December at Barclay Center during ‘Reunion Week’. KG and Pierce combined for 15 points on 5-13 shooting in the win. So far Boston has yet to get a win vs Doc Rivers (0-2) or Brooklyn (0-1) this season. The Nets (17-22) are surging right now, having won seven of their last eight including a blowout 103-80 win vs their cross town rivals the Knicks on Monday. They play the Magic and Mavericks at home before making the trip to Beantown.

Rondo's return, without a question will make the game everyone in Boston had circled on their calendars months ago even more intriguing. Especially now that he has officially been named the leader of the Celtics going into the future. Even Danny would agree that his 27-year-old captain has matured and really grown into the player he is today through the ups and downs of the last seven years.

“Rajon has come a long way as a leader,” said Ainge. "I think he’s learned from KG, learned from Paul, learned from Doc and just his own experience. I think he will continue to get better and better as a leader." [Boston Herald]

The C’s prepare to face the Heat for the second time tonight, let’s hope that this Sunday, there is a little more incentive for Boston now that Rondo has returned to the fold, and will have had some games already under his belt.

Regardless of outcomes, KG has nothing but love and respect for his former teammates and in particular Rajon who he now calls his family, after all they spent six years together.

"That’s my little brother. I love Rondo. He knows that, and I would do anything for him. All in all I’m just happy that he’s back and I’m happy he’s able to be healthy and continue to be able to do one of the things he does best… I try to keep an eye out for the young boys in Boston, just to see how they’re doing.” [New York Post]

Joel Pavón

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