Tonight marks the long-awaited return of one of the game’s greatest stat-sheet-stuffers of all-time. Rajon Rondo, who tore his ACL in late January of last year, comes back to a rebuilding Celtics franchise that is totally unfamiliar. The big three are no more, and head coach Doc Rivers left the bitter cold of Boston for the sunny side of Hollywood. But for a player of Rondo’s caliber, this will be looked at as a proving ground to see whether he can survive without the shadows of legends past looming over the top. If he can return to All-Star caliber, the plot will most certainly thicken as the trading deadline in only one month away. And considering the Celtics are 14-26 and do not posses a promising roster, it seems that the long-term appeal does not bold well for Rondo's future.
For now we are going to live in the past and celebrate the return of number 9, looking back at some of his greatest moments over the years. When the game’s counted most, Rondo was always ready to put up numbers in every available category.
May 9, 2010, Eastern Conference Semifinals (Game 4) – Upon losing Game 3 by 29 points, Rondo put the Celts on his back for a bounce-back game with an epic performance. With just about everyone else in foul trouble, Rondo posted 29 points, 18 rebounds, and 13 assists. The only players in NBA history to have similar postseason stat lines were Oscar Robertson and Wilt Chamberlain. The even bigger significance of this was it gave Boston new life and foreshadowed the end of the LeBron James era in Cleveland.
May 30, 2012, Eastern Conference Finals (Game 2) – From a basketball efficiency standpoint, this perhaps is Rondo’s finest performance of his career. He would play every minute of an overtime game in Miami against the Heat to the point of exhaustion. His stat line would read 44 points on 16-for-24 shooting, ten assists, eight rebounds and only three turnovers.
March 4, 2012, Regular Season Game vs New York Knicks – Rondo put up one of the best statistical games in NBA history. His triple-double of 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 20 assists not only helped his Celtics beat the Knicks 115-111 in overtime, it also placed him in very elite company. He became the first player to have 17 in each category since Magic Johnson in 1989 (Only Magic and Jason Kidd have had triple-doubles with at least 15 in each category in the last 25 years).