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Easy decision for Rajon Rondo to play

Rajon Rondo returned from surgery about a month ahead of schedule.Elise Amendola/AP

The plan was for Rajon Rondo to go through one last full-contact practice, get looked at by team doctors, and then sleep on things to see if he felt good enough to step on the court for the Celtics’ season opener against the Nets Wednesday night.

So he did.

He made sure the nap was nice and long.

“When I woke up, I was like, ‘OK, I’m playing.’ ”

It wasn’t much more complicated than that.

After breaking his left hand last month, the point guard returned to action a month ahead of schedule. Rondo started participating in full-contact practices last Thursday with the hope of returning for the opener.


After watching in practice and getting updates from team doctors, coach Brad Stevens felt confident Rondo was healthy enough.

“It’s healed quick, it’s healed well and we feel comfortable with him playing,” Stevens said.

There was no minutes restriction for Rondo, but Stevens planned on playing him in shorter stints. Rondo played 30 minutes, collecting 13 points, and a game-high 12 assists, and 7 rebounds in Boston’s 121-105 blasting of the Nets.

That’s the ticket

Not many NBA careers make it to the fine china year. In fact, before this season, only three players had lasted through 20 years of wear and tear in the league.

Twenty-one years into his career, Celtics great Robert Parish picked up the last of his four championship rings as a 43-year-old hoops sage on Michael Jordan’s 1996-97 Chicago Bulls team.

At 41, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar piled 748 more points onto the all-time scoring record in 1988-89 before calling it a career after 20 seasons.

Kevin Willis’s 21-year tour of the NBA took him to eight teams and saw him win a title with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003. Even after putting all the miles from 1,419 games on his body, he couldn’t stay away. He signed a 10-day contract with the Dallas Mavericks in 2006, a year after retiring. At the age of 44, though, there wasn’t much he could contribute. His comeback lasted five games.


When Kevin Garnett steps on the floor with the Nets Wednesday, he’ll join the small club of players who stretched their career over two full decades.

But he’ll be the only player on that list to do it while still in his 30s.

No active player has played more games than the 38-year-old Garnett (1,377) or logged more minutes (48,910).

“He’s blessed,’’ said Rondo, who spent six of those 19 years with Garnett in Boston, watching the work that went into the longevity.

“He takes good care of his body [and has] a little bit of luck from the man above.

“He’s very fortunate to play that long. The average NBA [career] is 4.5 [years] and he’s quadrupled it. He’s a great inspiration and he’s my friend.’’

Garnett started and played 23 minutes, collecting 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Summer surge

An underwhelming summer league seemed like it might be a setback from Kelly Olynyk going into his second season.

But, in explaining why he tapped Olynyk as his starting center, Stevens looked at it differently.

“He’s come a long way,” Stevens said. “I think part of the summer league performance — it’s funny because I thought he didn’t play as well in the summer league either and then I looked at his stats and they were pretty darn good.”


In four games, Olynyk averaged 17 points on 43 percent shooting along with 7.3 rebounds.

“I think our expectations of him were to wow us like he did the year before,” Stevens said before Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points in the opener. “Sometimes — I’m guessing, I don’t know this, I’ve only been through this twice — but that second summer league if you played a lot as a rookie probably isn’t the most exciting thing in the world. So I know he’s excited tonight.”

There’s a give and take between Olynyk’s offensive gifts (his shooting and passing) and his defensive liabilities, but altogether, Stevens said Olynyk is a boost when he’s on the floor.

“He can handle, pass and shoot and that really helps us operate at a high level on the offensive end,” Stevens said. “And then defensively, he’s just gotten a lot better.

“He’s never going to be Dwight Howard underneath the basket, but he gets to the right spots. He plays the right way as far as talking, and communicating and helping others play together as well.

Rotation set

Going in, Stevens firmly set the number of players he planned on using at 10. He said he had conversations with every player about their role. “Some in great depth,” Stevens said, “because they’re coming off the bench or not going to be a part of the rotation.” . . . Marcus Smart’s college teammate Markel Brown, who was taken by the Nets in the second round, started the season on the inactive list.



  Kelly Olynyk leads Celtics to a rout of Nets

■  On Basketball: Kevin Garnett comfortable coming ‘home’ to Boston

■  Photos: Celtics open season at TD Garden

■  Notebook: Easy decision for Rajon Rondo to play

Julian Benbow can be reached at