There are many things I can imagine Rajon Rondo doing if he weren’t a former All-Star still searching for his post-ACL tear path to success in a league that’s left little room for master passers without a jump shot. Connect 4 hustler immediately comes to mind. Poet laureate. Chairman of the National Roller Derby League relaunch. GQ fashion blogger. American Cornhole Organization commissioner.
Asked by “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Jesse Williams for one word to describe a variety of NBA players on Uninterrupted’s “Open Run” podcast, Gibson ran through Dwyane Wade (“smooth, so smooth”), Derrick Rose (“silent killer”), Russell Westbrook (“excitement”), Joakim Noah (“crazy”), Gilbert Arenas (“entertaining”) and Jimmy Butler (“supermodel”). In between, Williams asked Gibson about Rondo.
The Minnesota Timberwolves forward took a long pause — like, 12 seconds long with only a “hmmm” in between, which in podcast parlance is an eternity — before providing an answer at the 36:51 mark:
“President,” Gibson said of Rondo. “He can run for president.”
Popular NBA personal trainer Travelle Gaines, who sat in with Gibson and has worked with former Bulls Butler and Rondo, among others, chimed in with his one-word summary of Rondo: “Smart.”
Pretty much everyone who’s crossed paths with Rondo has credited the 31-year-old’s intelligence, before adding a caveat. “He was a terrible student,” former Eastern (Louisville, Ky.) High basketball coach and math teacher Doug Bibby once told Sports Illustrated, “but he was smart as hell.”
“He always thinks he’s the smartest person in the room, even if he isn’t,” an anonymous coworker once told ESPN Magazine’s Baxter Holmes for an article entitled, “Good at math, bad at people.”
And if we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that being smart doesn’t necessarily translate into presidential perfection, and conversely you don’t have to be all that smart to hold the Oval Office.
Political opponents might dig into Rondo’s background, since he hasn’t always been the best uniter. Just ask former Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who got into it with Rondo when the point guard threw a water bottle at a TV. Or Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, who Rondo told to “f*** off” during the playoffs. Or the Chicago Bulls, whose benching Rondo called “bulls***.” Or referee Bill Kennedy, who revealed he was gay shortly after Rondo repeatedly directed anti-gay slurs at him in a game.
We know Rondo has met at least two U.S. presidents — George W. Bush, who repeatedly pronounced drought “drouth” when introducing the 2008 champion Celtics at the White House, and Barack Obama, who apparently destroyed Rondo’s jumper for the decade since, according to Shaquille O’Neal:
In early March  some of the guys went to the museum of Fine Arts for a fundraiser and got to hang with President Barack Obama. Everyone was a little bit in awe. The President turns to Ray [Allen], points at Rondo, and says, “Hey, Ray, why don’t you teach this kid how to shoot?” Everyone starts laughing.
KG told me he saw the look on Rondo’s face and the kid was devastated, embarrassed. Dissed by the President, even though I’m sure Obama didn’t mean any harm. Rondo smiled and went along with all of it, but KG told me he could see it in his eyes. It bothered Rondo. It killed him.
The next day Rondo shot the ball horribly. He stopped taking shots after that. He’s so sensitive. I think it was a real jolt to hear the outside perception of a basketball fan who happens to be the President of the United States. It messed with his mind. I’m sure of it.
Although Rondo is a veteran with 11 years of NBA service, this evidence that a diplomat can destroy his psyche with a joke about his jump shot does not bode well for his political success. Just imagine how unraveled Rondo might become if Vladimir Putin starts mocking his nonexistent defense strategy.
It makes more sense for Rondo to apply his IQ to coaching, a role he “absolutely” wants to fill when his playing days are done, but let’s not rule out the point guard becoming president, because the country just elected a reality TV host who thinks climate change is a hoax manufactured by China, exercise drains the human body of its finite amount of energy and Frederick Douglass is still alive.
(Hat-tip to SLAM Magazine.)
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