Rajon Pierre Rondo (born February 22, 1986) is an American professional basketball player for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He is a four-time NBA All-Star, and a four-time NBA All-Defensive Team member. He also led the NBA in steals during the 2009–10 season, and assists during the 2011–12, 2012–13 and 2015–16 seasons. He began his professional career with the Boston Celtics, winning an NBA championship in 2008. He ranks fourth in Celtic history in assists, and third in steals. He briefly played for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2014–15 season before joining the Sacramento Kings in 2015 and the Chicago Bulls in 2016.
Rondo played two years of college basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats before he was drafted 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 NBA draft. He was subsequently traded to the Celtics where he played a supporting role during his rookie season. He established himself as the starting point guard for the Celtics during the 2007–08 season, helping the franchise record their 17th NBA championship playing alongside All-Stars Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. His breakout performance came during the 2009 NBA Playoffs, where he averaged a near triple-double, and helped his team take the eventual Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic to seven games in the Conference Semifinals. Rondo is considered to be one of the premier triple-double threats in the NBA. He ranks 12th in NBA history in career regular season triple-doubles (29), and fourth in career playoff triple-doubles (10).
Rondo was born on February 22, 1986 in Louisville, Kentucky, to Amber Rondo. He has three siblings: Dymon, William and Anton. He had little contact with his father, who left his family when he was seven years old. To support the family, his mother worked the third shift at Philip Morris USA, a tobacco company. Rondo was first interested in football, before his mother steered him towards basketball because she felt that the sport would be less punishing on his skinny frame.
High school career
After Rondo became serious about basketball, he attended Louisville's Eastern High School for three years. During his junior year at Eastern High School, he averaged 27.9 points, 10.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists which earned him a spot on the All-State honors and was named the 7th Region Player of the Year. He transferred to Virginia's Oak Hill Academy for his senior year where he averaged 21.0 points per game (ppg), 3.0 rebounds per game (rpg) and 12.0 assists per game (apg) and finished the 2003–04 season with a 38–0 record. In his senior year at Oak Hill Academy, Rondo broke Jeff McInnis's single-season school record of 303 assists, while averaging a double-double. There, he included two efforts of 27 assists and a single-game school record of 31, merely four away from the all-time national record. He also had a 55-point game in high-school, second highest all-time in Oak Hill Academy, surpassed only by Calvin Duncan with 61. Rondo was named to the McDonald's All-American Team in 2004 and scored a total of 14 points, 4 assists and 4 rebounds in the all-star game. He also participated in the 2004 Jordan Capital Classic game, logging 12 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. Rondo was also named a second-team Parade All-American. He ended his career as Oak Hill Academy's all-time assists leader in a single season with 494 assists, surpassing McInnis.
Rondo committed to Kentucky over hometown Louisville. Rondo, along with All-Americans Joe Crawford and Randolph Morris, gave coach Tubby Smith and Kentucky the top-rated recruiting class for 2004 according to Rivals.com. Rondo led Kentucky to several wins including victories against the Louisville, South Carolina and Central Florida, but Kentucky failed to advance to the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament in either Rondo's freshman or sophomore seasons. He was named to the SEC All-Freshmen Team. He set a Kentucky record for most steals in single-season, with a total of 87 steals in his freshman year and made at least one steal in every game. He finished his freshman year at Kentucky averaging 8.1 points, 2.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.6 steals.
In his sophomore year he had a career high 12 assists against Ole Miss, despite playing just 23 minutes, and 25 points against Louisville. Rondo also set another Kentucky Wildcats record for most rebounds in a game by a guard, with 19 rebounds in an early season loss to Iowa. He was not known for being a shooter, however, going 18–66 from three with a 57.1% FT average. He averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.1 steals per game in his sophomore year. Rondo was also named to the 2005 USA Men's Under-21 World Championship Team, which traveled to Argentina for the FIBA World Championships. He averaged 11.0 ppg and 4.5 apg in the eight-game tournament, garnering much attention from NBA scouts. The USA U-21 team won a gold medal at the Global Games held in Texas in late July.
Boston Celtics (2006–2014)
2006 NBA draft
Following the 2005–06 NCAA season, Rondo announced he would forgo his final two seasons at Kentucky and enter the NBA draft. Rondo was drafted 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2006 NBA draft. Phoenix then traded him to the Boston Celtics along with Brian Grant for the Cleveland Cavaliers' first-round draft pick in the 2007 NBA draft and cash considerations. He was the first point guard to be chosen in the draft. In another draft-day deal, the Celtics acquired Sebastian Telfair from the Portland Trail Blazers, finally uniting the backcourt Rick Pitino had envisioned at Louisville. He was signed by the Boston Celtics on July 4, 2006.
During his rookie season in the NBA, Rondo played a supporting role and would split time with Sebastian Telfair and Delonte West. Rondo only started in 25 games that season due to his initial backup role to Telfair. He made his NBA regular season debut on November 1, 2006, in a home loss against the New Orleans Hornets. In his rookie season, he lacked on his jump shot which resulted in him slashing to the basket for a teardrop or layup. While coming off the bench, he managed to score a career-high 23 points against the Toronto Raptors, and record his first career double-double in a road losing effort against the Washington Wizards. In his first career start, he matched his career-high against the Los Angeles Clippers, though the line-ups were constantly being shuffled between Telfair and Rondo at the point guard. After officially becoming a starter, he began to receive more playing time (career-high forty-seven minutes of playing time) and show improvement (career-high fourteen rebounds against the San Antonio Spurs, and a career-high seven steals against the Indiana Pacers). As the mid-season approached, his numbers began to increase, which earned him an NBA All-Rookie Second Team selection. He finished the season with an average of 6.4 ppg and 3.8 apg, ranking in the top ten in the NBA in steals (128) and also ranking in the top ten among rookies in several other categories, including first in steals, second in assists and sixth in minutes. In the end, however, the Celtics finished the season with a 24–58 win-loss record and failed to qualify for the playoffs.
After Telfair and West were traded during the offseason of the 2007–08 season, Rondo secured a spot in the starting lineup, starting in every game. Surrounded by All-Stars Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, he quickly became a steady, consistent player. In his 77 games played, he averaged 10.6 points per game (ppg), 5.1 assists per game (apg) and 4.2 rebounds per game (rpg). His role as a playmaker reflected in him leading the team in assists and steals. In a game against the New Jersey Nets, Rondo suffered a lower back injury late in the third quarter, forcing him to miss the next four games. He made his successful return from injury and to the starting lineup in a road win against the New York Knicks. A week later, he matched his career-high against the Miami Heat, and then scored a career-high 24 points in a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers the following month. During the All-Star break, he was selected to play on the Sophomore Team in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam. Following the All-Star weekend, Rondo recorded a career-high 16 assists in a home victory against the Charlotte Bobcats. Despite his solid rookie year, there was much speculation about Boston needing a veteran point guard. In March, they signed veteran point guard Sam Cassell as a free agent to serve as a backup. The Celtics' best single-season improvement in NBA history earned them the number one seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Following the regular season, Rondo finished in the top five for the NBA Most Improved Player voting. Rondo made his playoff debut on April 20, 2008 against the Atlanta Hawks and finished the game with 15 points, 9 assists and 2 steals. The Celtics closed out the series in seven games, went on to defeat Cleveland in the next round, and then defeated the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the NBA Finals, facing the Los Angeles Lakers, Rondo recorded two strong performances, including a career-high 16 assists in Game 2. In Game 3, however, Rondo left the court in the third quarter after rolling his ankle. The ankle injury was considered a "non-factor", and Rondo eventually made his return in Game 4. In Game 6, the point guard posted a playoffs career-high 6 steals as the Celtics defeated the Lakers 4–2, giving Rondo his first NBA championship ring. After the game Lakers head coach Phil Jackson called Rondo the "star" of Game 6.
In his third NBA campaign, the Celtics began the season with the best starting record in NBA history and also set a franchise record with a nineteen-game winning streak. Rondo's numbers increased from his previous season performance; however, he was criticized for his shooting. He recorded his first career triple-double along with a career-high in assists (16 points, 13 rebounds and 17 assists), against the Indiana Pacers. In a home win against the New York Knicks, Rondo led the team to tie a franchise record with eighteen straight wins. However, after the winning streak was snapped the team struggled, losing seven out of nine games after ending the streak. Rondo—matched up with one of the league's quicker guards, Tony Parker—recorded 16 assists in a losing effort against the Spurs, one short of his season-high. Less than a week later against the Mavericks, he recorded his second career triple-double (19 points, 15 rebounds and 14 assists), and then recorded a career-high 32 points against the Phoenix Suns on his 23rd birthday. He became the first NBA athlete to sign an endorsement contract with Red Bull on April 17, 2009. He finished the season ranking fifth in the NBA in assists (8.2) and steals (1.9). The team finished the season as the second seed in the Eastern Conference, although they entered the playoffs without their injured All-Star power forward Kevin Garnett.
In the playoffs match-up against the Chicago Bulls, despite putting up a playoff career-high 29 points in Game 1, the Celtics lost in overtime. Boston won the next two games and in Games 2 and 4, Rondo recorded triple-doubles and became the first Celtic player with two triple-doubles in the same series since Larry Bird in 1986. He also became the first player with multiple triple-doubles in the same playoff series since Jason Kidd had three triple-doubles in the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals. In Game 6, he recorded a career-high 19 assists without a turnover, tying an NBA playoffs record. In the next round against the Orlando Magic, the Celtics lost the first game before Rondo's triple-double performance in Game 2 helped secure a home win. His third triple-double of the postseason tied Larry Bird's franchise record and also became the first to do that since Jason Kidd had four. However, the Celtics were defeated in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. During the postseason, Rondo nearly averaged a triple double with 16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.8 assists.
During the 2009–10 season, Rondo averaged career highs in points (13.7), assists (9.8) and steals (2.3) and became the first Celtic to lead the league in steals. On November 2, 2009, Rondo signed a five-year extension with the Celtics worth a guaranteed $55 million. In a road victory against the Orlando Magic on Christmas day, Rondo recorded 17 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists, two assists shy of a triple double. Three days later, Rondo scored 30 points along to go with 15 assists in a road loss to the Golden State Warriors. On January 10, 2010, Rondo recorded his third regular-season career triple-double, with 22 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds against the Toronto Raptors. On January 28, 2010, he received his first NBA All-Star selection as a reserve on the Eastern Conference squad for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. He also competed in the 2010 H-O-R-S-E contest but lost in the finals to Kevin Durant. Rondo recorded his fourth regular-season career triple-double against the Denver Nuggets on March 24, 2010, with 11 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds. Two days later against the Sacramento Kings, Rondo entered the game tied with Rick Fox for a franchise record of most steals in a single-season (167), eventually establishing the record with a second-quarter steal from Sean May. In a game against the Houston Rockets on April 2, 2010, he broke Bob Cousy's franchise record for most assists in a single-season.
In the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Celtics defeated the Miami Heat in five games and faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round. In Game 2, Rondo dished out 19 assists tying his career-high and also tying a franchise record for most assists in a playoff game. In Game 4, he recorded his fourth postseason triple-double along with a playoff career-high 29 points and 18 rebounds. He joined Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson as the only other player in NBA history to have 29 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in a playoff game. The Celtics eventually defeated the Cavaliers and the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games. In the Finals, the Celtics once again faced the Los Angeles Lakers, a team they previously beat in 2008. In Game 2, Rondo recorded his second triple-double of the postseason (19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists), however, despite Rondo's performance, the Celtics succumbed to the Lakers in seven games.
In the first game of the 2010–11 season, Rondo put up 17 assists, which tied with Oscar Robertson for the third-most assists in a season opener. In the third game of the season, he dished out a career-high 24 assists along with a triple-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) against the New York Knicks. It tied him with Isiah Thomas as the only players in NBA history to have at least 24 assists in a triple-double. His total of 50 assists through the first three games of the season tied John Stockton's NBA record for most assists in the first 3 games of the season. In the next game against the Detroit Pistons, he finished the game with 17 assists for a total of 67 assists, which is the most assists in the team's first four games in NBA history. With a 15 assists effort the following day, Rondo again set a record for most assists through the first five games.
Rondo's season also began with injuries. He played through plantar fasciitis in his feet. He missed three games in November due to a strained left hamstring. He sprained his left ankle in a win against the New York Knicks on December 15, 2010, and missed the next seven games. On April 22, in the third game of the first-round playoff series against the New York Knicks, Rondo had a triple-double with 20 assists. Rondo set a Celtics franchise record for most assists in a playoff game. He was also tied with LeBron James with 6 career triple-doubles in the playoffs until James reached his seventh further on in the playoffs during Game 4 of the Finals. Rondo had the third best selling jersey in the league during the 2010–11 season, behind only James and Kobe Bryant.
On February 21, 2012, Rondo was named an injury replacement for Joe Johnson on the Eastern Conference roster at the 2012 NBA All-Star Game. With 18 points, 17 rebounds, and 20 assists against the Knicks on March 4, he joined Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, and Jason Kidd as the only players to have at least 15 points, rebounds, and assists in the same game. In a win against the Heat on April 1, Rondo registered another triple-double (16 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds). Rondo closed out the regular season with 24 consecutive games of 10 or more assists. This is not only a Celtics franchise record, but is also the longest streak the NBA has seen since John Stockton logged a streak of 29 such games in 1992. This streak was still considered active and resumed at the beginning of the 2012–13 regular season.
Rondo posted his sixth triple-double of the season (with 20 assists) in an overtime win against the Hawks on April 11. He had his first triple double of the 2012 playoffs against the same team on May 4, another on May 13 in the first game of the second round against the 76ers, and a third on May 26 in the last game of that round, helping the Celtics advance to the Eastern Conference finals. He joined Larry Bird as the only Celtics players to record a triple-double in a Game 7. In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Rondo scored a career-high 44 points while grabbing 8 rebounds and adding 10 assists. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Rondo is the only player in NBA history with 44 points, 10 assists, and 8 rebounds in a playoff game. On June 6, 2012, Rondo passed Bob Cousy for having 39 playoff games of 10 or more assists, making him the Celtics' all-time leader in that area. Rondo recorded another triple double in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Celtics lost to the Miami Heat, ending their playoff run. This tenth playoff triple-double tied Rondo for third (with fellow Celtic Larry Bird) among NBA career leaders.
Rondo began the season with 24 consecutive games of 10+ assists. He continued that streak, and recorded his 37th game with 10+ assists against the Orlando Magic on November 25, 2012, matching John Stockton's longest streak. Only Magic Johnson had a longer streak (46 games). The streak ended the next game against the Brooklyn Nets, when he was ejected for fighting with Kris Humphries after Humphries fouled Rondo's teammate Kevin Garnett. Humphries was also ejected, along with Brooklyn's Gerald Wallace, who was accused of escalating the incident. Rondo only recorded three assists before he was ejected. Rondo was voted the starting point guard spot for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, but on January 27, 2013, during a game with the Miami Heat, it was revealed that Rondo had torn his ACL and would miss the remainder of the season. Rondo still led the NBA in assists in the season.
On January 17, 2014, Rondo made his season debut with the Celtics, nearly a year after tearing his ACL. In 19 minutes of game time, he recorded 8 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds in a 104–107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. Upon his return, he was named the 15th captain in Boston Celtics history. On February 2, 2014, in a 96–89 win over the Magic, Rondo recorded his first double-double since his injury (19 points, 10 assists). On April 4, 2014, Rondo recorded his first triple-double of the season with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists, in a 102–111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.
On September 26, 2014, Rondo underwent successful surgical fixation of a left metacarpal fracture as a result of a fall at his home the night before. Despite speculation of possibly not being able to play on opening night because of the injury, Rondo suited up and played for the Celtics in the team's 121–105 season-opening win over the Brooklyn Nets. On December 10, 2014, Rondo recorded his 22nd career triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 87–96 loss to the Charlotte Hornets.
Dallas Mavericks (2014–2015)
On December 18, 2014, Rondo was traded, along with Dwight Powell, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, Brandan Wright, a 2015 first-round pick and a 2016 second-round pick. Two days later, he made his debut for the Mavericks against the San Antonio Spurs. In just under 34 minutes of action, he recorded 6 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals in the 99–93 win. On January 2, 2015, two weeks after being traded to Dallas, Rondo made his return to Boston as he was welcomed with a standing ovation upon being announced. He went on to score a career-high 15 first-quarter points, finishing with a season-best 29 to lead Dallas to a 119–101 victory. Rondo also had a career-high five three-pointers and finished with six rebounds and five assists.
On February 19, 2015, Rondo returned to action after missing six games due to nasal and left orbital bone fractures suffered January 31 when he was inadvertently kneed in the face by teammate Richard Jefferson. On February 25, he was given a one-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the team, a day after he had a heated exchange on the court with coach Rick Carlisle and was benched. On April 22, he was ruled out indefinitely due to a back injury he sustained during a Game 2 first-round series loss to the Houston Rockets.
Sacramento Kings (2015–2016)
On July 13, 2015, Rondo signed a one-year, $10 million contract with the Sacramento Kings. He made his debut for the Kings in the team's season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers on October 28, recording 4 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in a 111–104 loss. His next game showed glimpses of his form he had prior to the knee injury he sustained in 2012–13, recording 21 points and 8 assists in a 132–114 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. On November 13, he recorded his third triple-double in four games, notching his 25th career triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in a 111–109 win over the Brooklyn Nets. On November 18, he recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. On November 23, he recorded 14 points and a franchise-high 20 assists in an overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Four days later, in a game against former teammate Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Rondo became the first player since 1977–78 to have 16 points, 16 assists and no turnovers.
Rondo was ejected from the Kings' December 3 game against the Boston Celtics by Bill Kennedy, and in response, Rondo called Kennedy a "faggot". Kennedy publicly came out as gay just over a week later, and Rondo was suspended by the NBA for one game without pay on December 14. After posting two statements on Twitter that were widely panned as not being apologetic, Rondo issued a more contrite apology on December 15.
On January 23, 2016, Rondo recorded his fifth triple-double of the season with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 108–97 win over the Indiana Pacers. He tied Chris Webber for the most triple-doubles in one season during the Sacramento era, which dates back to 1985–86 season. Two days later, he recorded 7 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds in a 129–128 double overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets, thus recording 10 or more assists in 12 straight games, a Sacramento record. The streak ended at 14 games. On February 19, he recorded a near triple-double with a then season-high 24 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists and 5 steals in a 116–110 win over the Denver Nuggets. With an 11-point, 12-assist and nine-rebound game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on February 29, Rondo reached double figures in assists for the 39th time in 2015–16, tying a Sacramento record established by Reggie Theus in 1985–86. On March 25, he had 12 assists against the Phoenix Suns and passed Reggie Theus' Sacramento-era single-season franchise assist record that was established in 1985–86. On April 5, he recorded his sixth triple-double of the season with a season-high 27 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in a 115–107 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, setting a Kings franchise record for triple-doubles in a season.
Chicago Bulls (2016–2017)
On July 7, 2016, Rondo signed a two-year, $28 million contract with the Chicago Bulls. He made his debut for the Bulls in their season opener on October 27, recording 4 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 steals in a 105–99 win over the Boston Celtics. On November 10, he had a then season-best game with 16 points and 12 assists in a 98–95 win over the Miami Heat. On December 2, he recorded his first triple-double of the season with 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 111–105 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Three days later, he was suspended by the Bulls for one game for conduct detrimental to the team. On January 10, 2017, Rondo scored 12 points against the Washington Wizards in his first game since December 30. In that December 30 game, he posted a plus-minus rating of minus-20 during 11 first-half minutes in Chicago's 111–101 loss to the Indiana Pacers. He was subsequently removed from coach Fred Hoiberg's rotation for five games before being reinserted following injuries to Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. On March 13, 2017, he scored a season-high 20 points and had six assists and seven rebounds in his first start since December 30 as the Bulls beat the Charlotte Hornets 115–109. He bested that mark on March 21, scoring 24 points in a 122–120 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors. On April 1, he had a season-high 25 points and added 11 rebounds in a 106–104 win over the Atlanta Hawks. On April 21, Rondo was ruled out indefinitely after breaking his right thumb in Game 2 of the Bulls' first-round playoff series against the Celtics. While the Bulls went up 2–0 in the series with Rondo, they never found their rhythm over the final four games without Rondo; as a result, they lost to the Celtics in six games. On June 30, 2017, he was waived by the Bulls.
New Orleans Pelicans (2017–present)
On July 19, 2017, Rondo signed a one-year, $3.3 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans. On October 8, 2017, he was diagnosed with a sports hernia. Two days later, he underwent surgery and was ruled out for four to six weeks. He made his debut for the Pelicans on November 13, 2017, against the Atlanta Hawks, recording two points and two assists in about five minutes in the first half. He made his first start of the season two days later, recording four points and eight assists in 14 minutes in a 125–116 loss to the Toronto Raptors. On December 10, 2017, he recorded 13 points and 18 assists in a 131–124 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Denotes seasons in which Rondo won an NBA championship|
|*||Led the league|
Awards and honors
- Third Team: 2012
- First Team: 2010, 2011
- Second Team: 2009, 2012
- NBA All-Rookie selection:
- Second team: 2007
- NBA regular season leader:
- 2010: most steals (189), most steals per game (2.3)
- 2012: most assists per game (11.7), most triple-doubles (6)
- 2013: most assists per game (11.1), most triple-doubles (5)
- 2016: most assists per game (11.7), most assists (839)
- NBA postseason leader:
- 2008: most assists (172), most steals (45)
- 2009: most assists (127), most triple-doubles (3)
- 2010: most triple-doubles (2), most steals (46)
- 2011: most triple-doubles (1)
- 2012: most assists (227), most assists per game (11.9), most triple-doubles (4)
- Boston Celtics franchise records:
- List of National Basketball Association annual steals leaders
- List of National Basketball Association annual assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association career playoff assists leaders
- List of National Basketball Association players with most assists in a game