Rondo may be the most annoying basketball player in the NBA for a fan of an opposing team to watch. He does not destroy a team in the same way that Lebron James and Kevin Durant do. Those guys get theirs nearly every game, making impossible shots and moves no matter how well they are guarded. It is possible to guard them, but they are so good that the added degree of difficulty can sometimes seem irrelevant. This is to be expected.
Rondo does not take and make tough fade-away jumpers. Rondo does not get hot from three. Rondo does not bully his way to the free throw line over and over again (and even if he did, he would probably miss his free throw shots once he got there). Rondo is a star-level player, but he is not the same kind of player as anyone else in the league. This makes him annoying as Hell to watch when he has his foot against your team’s throat in a close game.
Rondo destroys a team not by making tough shots and plays over and over again, but by choosing his spots so careful. Here is where Rondo passes because he knows he can never make this shot. Here is where Rondo gets an easy layup because that is the only shot he can ever consistently make. Here is where Rondo relentlessly and annoyingly gets more rebounds than a guy his size should ever get and turns it into fast break after fast break — even though the rest of his team is slow and old and different from Rondo. Or that is to say Rondo is different from them.
Rondo is different from everybody.
Sometimes Lebron seems like he takes a difficult shot just to see if he can make it. Durant takes a difficult shot because he definitely can make it, and besides he has to bail out his team’s surprisingly iso offense (or is that I-S-O offense?). Rondo refuses to take a difficult shot unless there is no other choice. It is his strength and sometimes his weakness. He will pass out of an open layup to get an assist. He will almost always pass out of an open jump shot to give a teammate who may be a little less open a chance at the shot. Usually, it is the right move.
Rondo is annoying because he knows his weaknesses, and he dominates because of that. He could easily take a more Westbrookian approach to being a point guard. He would still be a very good point guard in this league if he did that, but he doesn’t. He is better for it.
Sometimes he will almost disappear for the night under the refusal to take a shot. Then something happens, and all the perfect shots open up for Rondo. I watched Rondo destroy my Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2010 playoffs this way (it helped that Mo Williams was guarding him). I watched Rondo destroy so many other teams this way.
Win or lose, it is annoying when you are on the opposing side of Rondo. It is why I love him.