The latest Rondo Superfan is enjoying this moment

Rajon Rondo’s magical transformation into “Playoff Rondo” earlier this week was extraordinary and delusional. After six consecutive months away from what had already been one of his worst seasons in a career filled with hiccups and setbacks, reasonable expectations for the famous actor’s return to court were almost permanently in the basement, especially after his eight-point failure. and four turnover against the Rockets in Game 1.

But in the last two games, the 33-year-old has had 31 points, 18 assists, six steals, five rebounds, and the Lakers are +35 while on the pitch. Rondo’s production was surreal; it was also the difference in a series full of razor-thin edges. The Lakers are leading 2-1. Without Rondo, they could be in a 0-3 hole.

Very few people saw it coming. But Rondo’s believers – those who fondly remember the All-Star’s four consecutive appearances, overlook criticism of his defense and believe his virtuous death will forever triumph over his skipped shot – exist, though, after a legitimate rebirth. in New Orleans, two years ago, they’re skinny on the ground these days.

Aside from this writer, one of them is Hayley, a 23-year-old Aussie who has been running a popular Rondo superfan account on Instagram for the past eight years. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised. I see all the hatred that Rondo gets from Lakers fans and that really annoys me, “he told me a day later that Rondo punched three 3s and scored 21 points.” I think he’s simply the best player to watch in the NBA. “

Hailey didn’t grow up playing or watching basketball, but her first sighting of Rondo turned her into a Celtics fan. His palpable intelligence, selflessness and ability to control the pace of an entire match were too impressive to ignore.

“Back then a lot of people unfamiliar with the game would have seen Rondo and thought he was a player you can watch all day,” he said. “And that was me.” In 2014, Hayley got a dog and named him Rondo. Two weeks later, the real Rondo was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, but his appreciation and admiration never wavered. Despite the time difference – NBA games air around 10am in Melbourne – she still watches all of the Boston games and most of Rondo’s appearances after she gets home from work.

Through it all, he kept posting photos of Rondo lifting weights, creating meme-caliber facial expressions, and modifying his face into Renaissance paintings. Rondo followed Hayley’s tale a few years ago and still likes some of the photos she posts. At one point, her coach sent her a DM just to let her know how much Rondo appreciated the support.

“Sometimes I’ll post stuff even when I’m not watching any games. I’ll just find a photo on Twitter and put it on. Or when something meaningful happens, “he said.” I remember when he punched Chris Paul [in October 2018, one game into his Lakers tenure], I was actually at work and I said “God, I have to put it on so fast”, so I took the video, put it on, and it went crazy. It was quite a hit, that punch. “

Going back to the here and now, Hayley believes the Rondo we saw in Game 3 – the spirited playmaker knocking down the three wide open that Houston was praying he would take – is the Rondo we should expect from here on out. Not only is it sustainable, according to her: it is inevitable.

“He’s obviously still trying to figure out what his role is, but when LeBron and the CEO have faith in him, I think he’ll deliver as many assists as he is now,” said Hayley. “The triple won’t always fall, as we know with Rondo, but he can still make great plays.”

In a Lakers team that doesn’t have a third star and constantly needs playmakers who can increase their attack when LeBron sits down – or even just cut his load and unlock more chances to score off the ball – Rondo is theoretically a piece. whole wheat. Despite averaging only 20 minutes per game during the regular season, he had the ball in his hands more often and for longer periods of time than everyone else on the team except LeBron.

He will no longer fill out a Big 3, but it’s not entirely inconceivable that he will slip into the Lakers’ closing fifth and continue to influence both ends of the floor by identifying mismatches, creating efficient looks and calling his number when he sees fit.

Hayley thinks it’s possible. But the realist in her also knows that Rondo won’t be around forever. And once he hangs them up, there is another player he holds in high regard. “Marcus Smart is almost reaching the Rondo level for me. A lot of people hate it too, ”he laughed. “I think I like players that people hate, and I like to defend them.”




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