Rajon Rondo tries his hand at calling a game
CHICAGO — Brian Scalabrine sent a long text message that later was followed with a phone call. Cedric Maxwell shared words of wisdom. Others passed along tips to Rajon Rondo as well.
The Celtics point guard also received some homework: a 30-minute DVD with examples of television standups, including from Maxwell and Tommy Heinsohn, and also some color commentary clips.
Finally, Monday morning, Rondo sat in on a 40-minute editorial meeting with Comcast SportsNet crew members to discuss that evening’s broadcast, when Rondo would be making his debut as a television color analyst during the Celtics’ game against the Bulls.
“He was quoting things from the DVD,” said Mike Gorman, Comcast SportsNet’splay-by-play voice for Celtics games, who worked alongside Rondo.
“He had done all his homework. He was excited about wearing the headset. There’s part of him that’s like a little kid about this — he was genuinely excited.”
Rondo, wearing a light gray suit with a red tie and a press pass, seemed calm before the game, saying it would be “fun,” reciting the key advice he received: “Don’t curse — and smile.”
Of course, Rondo participated only because he sat out of the Celtics’ 94-80 loss to rest his surgically repaired right knee because it was the second game of a back to back.
“It’s something I wanted to do,” he said. “I did it for the fans, I did it for my team. It’s something different. Not a lot of guys do it currently while playing. I thought it would be OK to give it a shot. I wasn’t playing a back to back, I was traveling with the team, so why not?
A small sampling of his commentary:
On Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau: “Thibs is always shaking his head. He doesn’t smile until the game is over.”
On a controversial call against the Celtics: “No comment.”
On his health: “I’m almost at 100 percent. I’m trying to get my speed back and get explosive.”
On himself: “I definitely hate coming out. If I could play every minute of every game, I would.”
On his belief that Jeff Green is best athlete on the Celtics: “By far, by far. The things he can do are amazing.”
Near the end, Rondo told Gorman, “We were just getting warmed up. Let’s do it again.”
“I thought he was very good,” Gorman said.
Rondo was also pleased.
“Mike made it a lot easier for me,” Rondo said. “I think it went OK. Obviously room for improvement, but my first time out, I think I did a pretty good job.”
Would he do it again?
“It’s a possibility,” he said. “If the broadcast wants me back on, then we’ll see.”
Overall, Rondo said the television stand-up that he did was the most challenging because it was live in front of a camera. “Other than that, it was just like sitting in your living room, talking to a friend of yours, dissecting the game,” he said.
Not that it was easy.
“Mike is so good at it,” Rondo said. “He makes it look easy. And it’s not.”
Rondo added of Gorman, “He’s probably the best at what he does. All the things that you don’t see on camera that he’s doing. He’s doing about 90 things in one minute behind the scenes.”
Gorman hoped the opportunity would give people a side of Rondo that they don’t know before.
“For this to be a success, for me, would be if people that are watching us walk away saying, ‘Wow, he’s a better kid than I thought,’ ” Gorman said.
Gorman expanded on that subject.
“I think Boston has really missed the boat with this kid,” Gorman said. “I’m a Dorchester guy, I grew up in the city, and I just think the city has missed the boat in the sense that this is a good kid.
“He does a lot of good charity stuff outside of the Celtics that he’s never talked about. If BirthdayGate is the biggest offense that he has in his professional career, well, I don’t know what to say about that. That was just much ado about nothing.”
Gorman added that Rondo is “arguably, in my mind, one of the top five attractions in the NBA to watch on a nightly basis. He just does things that other people don’t do.”
Coach for all seasons
Coach Brad Stevens received a text message from his wife Monday that made him laugh. It stated that his son, Brady, came home from school and immediately turned on the Red Sox’ season opener against Baltimore.
“That’s pretty neat, because he’s not a big baseball guy, but he’s pretty excited about the start of the season,” Stevens said.
Stevens noted his son might have high expectations after the team’s World Series title last year.
“He’s only been here seven months; he thinks this is the way it goes,” Stevens said with a laugh.
It’s been a tradition for the coaches and managers of the professional teams in Boston to be a tight-knit group.
Stevens said he’s had a chance to chat with Bruins coach Claude Julien, and Stevens hopes to get to know Red Sox manager John Farrell and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
“Yeah, no question,” Stevens said. “I used to do that in Indianapolis all the time. I do that at retreats across the country. I’ve shared texts with Belichick and he would be an unbelievable one to learn from and to pick his brain.
“But I have not got a chance to meet those guys. And another thing is, they’re all busy. So the last person they need to worry about is me. But if I get a chance, I’ll fire questions at them until they don’t want to answer them anymore.”
Avery Bradley went to the locker room in the first half with what the guard said was tendinitis in his right Achilles’ tendon. Bradley, who recently missed 13 straight games with a sprained right ankle, did not return to the game. “It just comes from not playing for a long period and then coming back full speed,” Bradley said. “It’s been bothering me, but I’ve just been playing through it, just getting treatment, but tonight it got the best of me.” Bradley said he wasn’t sure if he would play Wednesday against Washington.