Rajon Rondo says January return is unrealistic

  • Andy Flint

NBA Finals Game 7:  Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers

We know Celtics’ fans and fantasy basketball managers across the world are awaiting the return of Rajon Rondo. The game of basketball is better with Rondo sparking fast breaks and playing in your face defense, but a January return seems unrealistic, and even Rondo seems to think so.

Via the Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald:

“It might be the end of January, late February,” Rondo said after watching the Celtics suffer through one of their worst performances with last night’s 106-79 loss to the Indiana Pacers. “I’m going to come back when I get my stamina.”

Asked if January, the nebulous time pegged by Celtics management, was a realistic goal, Rondo said, “No. I’ve had one practice — a pickup game, and that’s about it. My endurance is key. I don’t want to come back and not be 100 percent.

Fans and media have a way of rushing athletes back from injuries. The fact is, Rondo suffered a pretty significant knee injury (torn ACL), but the works of modern medicine and quick recoveries from athletes like Adrian Peterson have set some very high expectations for all athletes returning from any sort of injury. A torn ACL used to be considered one of those injuries you didn’t return from, and now fans expect guys back in eight months.

People tend to forget that it’s not just recovering from the injury. These athletes have to regain their stamina, and in the case of a knee injury, Rondo needs to get his leg strength back.

“It’s me being in shape as well. The worst thing is coming back and not being in shape, because you can risk injury.” Rondo said. “I want to be in basketball-condition shape. You can run all the sprints you want and get on a bike and do that conditioning, but after 10 or 11 months of not playing the game of basketball, it’s not easy to get back in shape just doing those things. You have to play basketball.”

Getting reps in at the gym, jogging on a treadmill, or shooting some jumpers is also incredibly different from full-court, five-on-five action. Being in game shape and prepared for contact basketball is something Rondo will need to be 100% sure he’s ready for.

“I think it’s very important,” Rondo said. “I’ve been in the other drills, in the dummy offense, I know the game, I know what we’re looking for with our sets. It’s a matter of getting up and down the court. I got winded very quickly. I just have to go as hard as I can.”

Rondo knows his own body. Much like Derrick Rose knew his own body, as he sat out all of last season. Rondo does assure us that the knee is ready. He just needs to take his time and be sure the rest of his body is ready to go. Nobody wants to see a 60% Rondo out there anyways. It’s not like the Celtics are on the verge of a title and need Rondo to lead them to the promise land. This team is rebuilding, and they need Rondo healthy and ready to go for the future.

“I have confidence in my knee,” Rondo said. “I’m excited to be playing again. Right now it’s repetition, playing 5-on-5 basketball. The knee is fine. It’s not about falls. That’s part of my game. It’s just going up and down the court.”

I’m certainly excited to see Rondo make his return. I just hope he’s completely ready when it happens.

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