Rondo Teams with Gorman as Color Analyst
CHICAGO – We’ve all gotten to know Rajon Rondo the basketball player over the last eight years. On Monday night, we met Rajon Rondo the analyst.
Rondo, at his own behest, stepped into the world of broadcast journalism as the color analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England’s broadcast of Monday’s Celtics game in Chicago. The point guard was available to participate on air as he rested his surgically-repaired right knee in the second night of a back-to-back. He played the role of analyst during the network’s pregame show and for the entirety of the first half.
“I think it went OK,” Rondo said after the game as he discussed his first on-air performance. “Obviously room for improvement, but first time out I think I did a pretty good job.”
Play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman seemed to concur as he spoke to Celtics.com just moments after the experiment came to an end. Gorman acknowledged that there were rough patches during the broadcast but seemed to come away pleased with the result.
“It was a little bumpy at first only because things are brand new to him,” Gorman said. “… But I would say by about the six-, seven-minute mark of the first quarter he was very comfortable and in the second quarter he was much, much better.”
The duo discussed a myriad of topics throughout their time together on air. One moment that stood out was when Rondo broke down a play drawn up by Brad Stevens that resulted in a Kelly Olynyk jumper.
“This is definitely a great play by Brad Stevens,” Rondo commented. “Here you see the dribble-weave action, hand off one time, two times, even a third time to Bass. Misdirection. Brad knows Chicago likes to tag on the cut. Kelly Olynyk steps in and knocks down the shot.”
Gorman followed up with a question many fans were likely wondering: “Tag on the cut… what’s that mean?”
Rondo responded by explaining, “When the weak-side guy cuts backdoor, as Jeff Green did, Taj Gibson tagged him and that left Kelly Olynyk wide open for the J.“
Rondo also gave his thoughts on many of his teammates as well as the opponent. He even opened up about his developing relationship with Bulls star Joakim Noah.
“About two years ago we came to an understanding,” Rondo said, “because we were always going at each other, and we didn’t ever really understand why… so one game we were at the free-throw line and just thought about why we even go at each other. We kind of squashed it. No beef. No big deal. He’s fun to compete against.”
While the majority of the broadcast ran as expected, there was one incident that surprised everyone who was watching or listening in. The arena’s cameras captured Bulls mascot Benny the Bull standing behind Rondo while eating a large bag of popcorn. Problem is, Benny’s mouth doesn’t open, which resulted in handfuls of popcorn trickling down Rondo’s silver suit. Rondo embraced the sequence by sitting in his chair and laughing until Benny took off.
“That was a bit of a funny moment,” Gorman said with a laugh. “I know Rajon is not too crazy about mascots in general so the fact that he kept his temper there was very good.”
The laughs, the smiles and the stories all made for an incredibly entertaining performance. Fans were able to see a side of Rondo that they’ve never seen before, and that’s exactly what many had urged Boston’s captain to show off as he tackled this challenge.
“Just be yourself,” Rondo recalled being advised by others who have teamed up with Gorman, including Cedric Maxwell and Brian Scalabrine. “When there’s dull moments on camera and you’re not talking, don’t feel like you have to talk every minute. Just talk when you feel comfortable.”
As Gorman indicated, Rondo became more and more comfortable as the game wore on. And as his comfort level grew, so did his level of respect for Gorman.
“He's probably the best at what he does,” Rondo said. “All of the things that you don't see on camera that he's doing. He's doing about 90 things in one minute behind the scenes.”
The two newly-joined partners later exchanged appreciative notes to each other via Twitter.
@celticsvoice thanks for having me Mike
— Rajon Rondo (@RajonRondo) April 1, 2014
With that, the first night of getting to know Rajon Rondo the analyst came to a close. It was a resounding success by all accounts, and that’s why the point guard left the door very much open for a possible reunion with Gorman in the near future.
“I still have to talk to Danny (Ainge), I have to talk to my lawyers, to my coaching staff, my agent,” Rondo said, “but I mean… it’s a possibility. If the broadcast wants me back on, then we’ll see.”
We're going to go out on a limb and say that CSNNE wants him back, and so do the rest of us. Rondo proved Monday night the next-best thing to watching him play basketball is listening to him break the game down.