Few coaches publicly criticize their star players, especially in the playoffs, and the Celtics’ Doc Rivers was no different in addressing the one-game suspension of Rajon Rondo for bumping a referee in the team’s Game One loss to the Atlanta Hawks. He praised Rondo’s “fire” and being “a fighter for his team,” while acknowledging in verbal shrugs, “sometimes it burns you,” and “every once in a while he crosses” the line. He further covered for Rondo by saying “we’re a volatile team in a lot of ways.”
Celtics fans should hope Rivers has a bit more to say privately to the player whose frequent triple-doubles of assists, points, and rebounds make him the best hope for carrying an otherwise aged team deep into the playoffs. Rondo overacted to a bad call by the referee in a way that no team leader should, and his poor sportsmanship soured the atmosphere around a team that rose to the occasion more often than not late in the season. Now the good news: It’s not too late for Rondo to redeem himself.