Two of the best point guards playing in the Association, put up some pretty incredible numbers on Sunday that not only led to victories for both their teams; but showed just how valuable they are to their individual franchises. The man who has received the lion’s share of the headlines, has been New Jersey Nets All-Star guard Deron Williams, who scored 57 points in a victory over the Charlotte Bobcats by a final of 104-101. Williams not only scored the most points in his career in the Association; he shattered the record for most points scored in a game by a Nets player.
Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo was not as prolific in the scoring department as Williams was on Sunday, however he racked up his fourth triple-double of the campaign as the Celtics topped the New York Knicks 115-111 in overtime. The Boston starter’s final stats for the contest were mind-boggling; as he scored 18 points,dished off 20 assists, grabbed 17 boards, as well as having a block and a steal for the afternoon.
According to the “Boston Herald” Rondo was the first NBA player to record a triple-double with 17 in each category since Magic Johnson pulled off the feat in April of 1989. You have to go all the way back to February of 1968 to find a player that had better numbers than the Celtics point guard did on Sunday; as Wilt Chamberlain knocked down 22 points, 25 boards and had 21 assists on the second of the month.
The victory on Sunday was the fourth in a row for the club, as well as one of their most important wins so far in this campaign; as it put them a game and a half up on New York in the Eastern Conference Playoff chase. The Celtics are now the seventh seed with the Knicks holding the final Playoff slot in the conference.
After the contest, Boston big man Kevin Garnett told members of the media that he believes that the point guard’s incredible performance had been fueled by the trade rumors that have circulated about him over the last couple of weeks. Garnett said “The trade talks really is a good motivating factor for him. If you know Rondo, he’s an I’ll-show-you type of person.”
The talk about blowing up the core of the squad that captured the 2008 NBA Championship, seems to be motivating more than just Rondo, as Garnett, Ray Allen as well as Paul Pierce have had strong performances that have contributed to the team’s current winning streak. Boston had gone into the All-Star break losing five straight and the team looked lethargic and out of sync, which reignited the trade talk that had surrounded the club earlier this season.
Celtics President Of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge was the impetus for the trade talk early in the campaign as the club struggled coming out of the gate. The former Celtics guard told reporters that he would be open to moving any of the club’s vaunted “Big Three” if the right deal came along. With that threat hanging over their heads the team responded by going out on a 10-3 run and lifted their record to 15-12.
The rumors started to heat up once again as the Association reached the break for All-Star weekend; this time centering on Rondo. Published reports started to pop up stating that Ainge was actively shopping his All-Star point guard, as he had reached his limit of tolerance with the player’s temper. Rondo was suspended for two games after he threw a ball at a referee that hit him in the chest during a loss to the Detroit Pistons.
Although Ainge and bench boss Doc Rivers vehemently denied that the rumors had any credibility, they have yet to stop as the NBA trade deadline of March 15, approaches. Which leads one to ponder if Ainge is not planting these rumors in the first place, possibly as a psychological ploy to motivate his players. If that is the case, then his plan has succeeded as the rumors each time have caused his club to play better.
All is fair in love and war; and perhaps in basketball as well; as most certainly every successful executive or head coach must have their own methods of motivating their players. If Ainge is the person behind the trade talk to get his players with more passion, how many times can he pull off this ploy before it no longer has any effect. Could it conceivably backfire; causing a player that he has mentioned to demand a trade, when the Team President had no intentions of really putting him on the block?
With all the speculation that has been rampant throughout the Association since the regular season started on Christmas Day, there has yet to be a trade of any significance with the trade deadline rapidly approaching. The old credo of if you hear about a trade it is not going to happen; has held true so far during this campaign.
Whether Ainge decides to make a move or not, he will no longer have the threat of breaking up his team as a motivating tool after March 15. At that point the players will have to motivate themselves; or he and Rivers will have to come up with new ways to inspire them.