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In the never-ending saga of BirthdayGate, when Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo skipping the team flight to Sacramento in order to celebrate his birthday with family in L.A., Boston continues to hold a clinic on how not to run a PR department.
Seemingly over and done with once Rondo and Celtics GM Danny Ainge held court behind closed doors to hash it out, the story suddenly resurfaced when Ainge decided to share further details in a radio interview on Wednesday morning.
“He let Brad [Stevens] know and he let me know that he was going to stay in L.A. an extra day, and we didn’t think that he should,” Ainge told Boston’s CBS Sports radio station. “But it was his choice and [we told him] there may be consequences if you stay. It was that simple.”
It’s unclear why Ainge felt he needed to explain the situation beyond the standard, “Rondo and I talked about it, handled it internally. We both learned from the conversation we had, and now we’ve both already moved on.” Something along those lines would have been more than sufficient, if a bit boring. But when you’re the one running the team and managing players’ contentment — especially your best player with only one year remaining on his contract — boring is good. I would venture a guess that the radio show host was expecting a pretty vanilla answer to a question that was a little outdated but had to be asked, only to get this gift of a quote to stir up a minor storm.
Maybe Ainge felt he had to defend his stubborn and strong-headed point guard to make up for all the annoying trade rumors. Maybe he wanted to pump up how this has helped Rondo grow as the team captain. Maybe Ainge legitimately felt he had “nothing major to hide,” although I would argue that doesn’t mean you need to (literally) broadcast such things to the rest of the world. (But did you really have to toss the word “major” in there? That makes it sound so sketchy, Danny, and begs the question of what minor issues are going on behind closed doors. Come on.)
The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this is a ploy by the front office to slightly and not-so-subtly sabotage Rondo as he approaches free agency in the summer of 2015. Sure, it might depress his trade value; but if the Celtics are shooting to re-sign Rondo to a long-term deal after he tests the free agent waters instead of trading him, then goading other teams into thinking twice about making a max offer is a win for Ainge and the Celtics. (Like I said, this is the conspiracy theorist in me.)
You may recall that Rondo had the chance to put this story to bed himself when he first faced the media after re-joining the team. All he had to do was display a hint of remorse while admitting wrongdoing (regardless of whether it was wrong or not, but that’s a separate issue I’m not prepared to delve into right now). But of course he chose to respond in typical Rondo fashion, bristling, “Nobody knows the story, so you guys can keep making up every story you guys possibly can. It’s my business. It’s my choice.”
And so the saga continues, and the Rondo enigma grows, and the world keeps on spinning.