For Service Beyond The Call of Duty …

“Remember that time back in 2011, when Rondo broke his elbow in the playoffs against the Heat, was carried off the court, then returned with one arm, beat some clown to a loose ball, and jammed it with his good arm? That was really awesome.” — the Ghost of Chris Farley – October 18, 2018

Quite frankly, I am not sure awesome does the trick to describe Rondo’s Saturday night heroics.  That is because sports history is littered with instances of players getting knocked out and then dramatically returning to action. But Rajon Rondo didn’t JUST get knocked out last night. He got blown up by the equivalent of a sports IED and returned to the game with a missing limb. Sorry, but outside of combat, you just don’t see that every day.

And let’s be honest here. That injury was gruesome. I guess some will argue it wasn’t quite a Theisman or a Krumrie or a McGahee. But forearms are not supposed to bend that way. Forget your everyday vanilla dislocation. That joint was mangled so badly that I scored it as a 6.2 on the vomit scale.  Mind you, the only 10 I have ever given out went to that Thai martial arts guy who had his shin sawed in half and was left to fight with a wet sock hanging below his knee.

Given the ghoulishness of the injury, my first thought at the time was Boston’s four-year revival was in cardiac arrest. This aging patient was already sick but losing Rondo for the season would be way too much to overcome. And a greatly impaired Rondo may still prove devastating.

But to see Rondo return like he did gives me pause. And at least some hesitation before I sign the death certificate.

Why the optimism? Simple. All great series have an enduring narrative and I can now imagine the one that will describe a Celtics win over Miami. And basically, it will be heavy on words like “grit,” “guile,” and “guts.” I know …..  stories like that, built on vacuous intangibles, hardly ever work. But I am starting to like this script and think it can be sold.

That is because for all their flaws, this Celtics team is neck deep in guts. Pierce. Garnett. Ray Ray. Jermaine. These guys. This team. They will fight like animals to the end. A few days ago, that might have looked insufficient. After all, guts often lose out to quickness. But after what we saw last night – from Rondo and Pierce and KG – I am having second thoughts and warming to the idea that the Celtics can grind this thing out.

All bets are off if Rondo is a no-go in game four. And I still worry about whether the Celts will be able to bounce back on Monday with the same energy that they brought last night. But at least I now see how all of this can unfold in Boston’s favor. And if it breaks right, I think Boston, led by Rondo, may be too tough to lose this fight.

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