This headline could have gone in any number of ways. Dr. Richard Kimble-based. Def Leppard drummer/Hysteria pun-full. Perhaps even a Jim Abbott reference. But we’ll keep it simple — just like Rajon Rondo did with his post-game comments describing his grotesque elbow dislocation he suffered and subsequently returned from in the Celtics do-or-diesque Game 3 win over the Heat tonight. “I thought I could try to change the game’s momentum by getting to the ball defensively,” said Rondo. “I only need two legs for that.”
Matt Moore does a good job expressing how we shouldn’t go overboard on asserting that Rondo’s return won this game for Boston. But this dude is tough as railroad spikes, and this will still be forever known as The Rondo Game. In a way, it’s a microcosm (in terms of importance/immortality) of Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals in which doubtful-to-play Willis Reed limped his way into the starting lineup and hit a few shots early to help propel his Knicks to the title. In reality, if you’re going to credit one man with New York’s 113-98 victory over the Lakers, it must be Clyde Frazier, who put up 36 points, 19 assists and 7 boards. As Clyde famously said, “Willis provided the inspiration while I provided the devastation.”
Sticking to that, tonight, Rondo brought the inspiration while KG most certainly brought the devastation. Garnett’s 28 points (on 20 shots) and 15 boards were a true flashback to his MVP days and, along with a great night for Paul Pierce, gave Celtics fans new hope that the old champs may be able to knock off the young upstarts yet.
Furthermore, more so than being like the Willis/Clyde game, this one may be closer to two memories in Celtics lore: the Larry Bird concussion game and the Cs 1973 Eastern Conference Finals during which John Havlicek separated his shoulder and played a few games essentially one-handed.
In any event, here are a few post-game thoughts from Kevin Garnett on Rondo’s effort.
- “Shorty’s a real tough dude and I seen him play through some hellafied* injuries. I saw his face and I knew he was beat up.”
- “I’m not going through the list of injuries that yall are unaware of … but I’ve seen him play through some horrific injuries.”
- “When he came in, I was just like ‘that’s typical Rondo.’”
- “I dunno what he’s gonna be like when he’s 35, but—for right now—he’s … showing a lot of heart. A lot of grit.”
Who knows if he will play in Game 4, but even if he doesn’t and the Heat ultimately beat the Celtics, no one will ever forget this game.
Lastly, below is the most marquee play from Rajon after the injury: him picking Chris Bosh’s pocket with his left hand, something he barely used post-injury, and dunking with his right, the hand he used to snatch one-armed boards, drive to the hoop and throw cross-court bounce passes.
* I wasn’t sure whether this should be “hellafied” like “qualified” and “dignified” or “hella fide” like “bona fide.” AP Style Guide proved no help. Makes more sense with the former, but my first instinct was the latter.