Rajon Rondo: the rise, fall and then rise again of the best dimer of his era

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Everybody loves a comeback story, right? You know, the tale of tribulations to victory, overcoming the odds or rising from the ashes to prove the doubters wrong?

Of course we do. And now that you've been showered in the appropriate amount of cliches, allow me to divulge you in a man that is a cocktail of all the aforementioned triumphs: Rajon Rondo.

The Sacramento Kings guard only turned 30-years-old late February, but it seems like the four-time All-Star has been around forever.

Rondo entered the NBA a decade ago courtesy of the 2006 draft, where he was selected 21st overall by the Phoenix Suns.

Incredibly, he was the first point guard selected from the field. The talent pool of that class included the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyle Lowry and J.J Redick.

You might recall, Andrea Bargnani was the number one pick that year. You might not.

Rondo was immediately shipped to the Boston Celtics along with Brian Grant for the Cleveland Cavaliers' first-round draft pick in 2007 and cash considerations.

Following a relatively quiet rookie season, the Kentucky-born star emerged as the Celtics' starting point the following campaign. Many stars aligned to pave the way for Rondo, but the key factor was Sebastian Telfair's part of the trade to Minnesota that brought Kevin Garnett to Boston.

Rondo's primary competition for the one spot departed and now in his maiden season - following a lot of moves from general manager Danny Ainge - he suddenly found himself as a cog supporting the star-studded 'Boston Three Party'.

Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Garnett would drive Boston from the very bottom of the East in Rondo's first campaign to NBA champions the following season, completing the greatest season-season turnaround in NBA history.

Labelling Rondo a cog would be borderline offensive to a man of his capabilities. He was far from just a well-paid on-looker; the 6'1" guard was explosive when he burst towards the lane and his penchant for creating excellent looks for his marquee teammates wasn't going unnoticed.

Rondo's basketball IQ was a vital component to Boston's resurgence. The Celtics went 261-121 for a .683 win percentage during their five-year tenure and Rondo only got better with every passing season.

By the time the Celtics lost in the NBA finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010, Rondo led the league in steals, was an NBA All-Defensive First Teamer and an All-Star - at just 24.

He was dropping a fraction off a double-double in 2010 with an average of 13.7 points and 9.8 assists a night.

The ascent of the former Kentucky college star was clear for all to see, but questions about his personality and on-court demeanour started to surface.

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant expained how Rondo and he are cut form the same cloth and how personalities like them are a rare breed.

Bryant said: "We're comfortable pushing buttons. I think teams and players nowadays don't want to criticize each other and just want to compliment each other all the time and tell them how peachy things are. And me and him aren't opposed to challenging players."

Courtesy of ESPN, Rondo replied: "I agree, everybody wants to be buddy-buddy. We're out there competing. I don't feel like we have to be dirty or anything crazy, but as far as competing, there's no limits."

Garnett believes he had a profound influence over Rondo during his stay in Boston and cited the similar traits the pair exuded.

"I'm not afraid to fight for something. I'm not afraid to stand up for something. I'm not afraid to stand up for my friends, stand up for what we believe in, to believe in something wholeheartedly. He [Rondo] has a lot of the same makeup. I think that's our draw."

Pierce, on the other hand, left some question marks around Rondo's commitment in an interview with last year.

'The Truth' was a Washington Wizard at the time, and was talking about how John Wall and Bradley Beal could very well ascend to the very top level. The one thing that can stand in their way, is the same thing that stopped Rondo, according to Pierce.

"'You've got to make up your mind. Do you want to be good, or do you want to be great? Because if you want to be great, you gotta do it every single night, not just when you feel like it.'

"That was Rondo's problem, too. Some days he did, some days he didn't. I think it's more this generation."

After the three superstars split up in 2012, Rondo was finally handed the keys to the kingdom and became the face of the most successful franchise in NBA history.

He started the 2012 season with 24 consecutive games of 10 or more dimes. He went on to record 37 of those feats, matching the great John Stockton's longest streak. Only Magic Johnson - often revered as the greatest point guard ever - had a longer streak at 46 games.

How did Rondo's streak end? He got ejected for fighting with Kris Humphries against the Brooklyn Nets. His wild side had let him down, and not for the first, or last time.

An ACL injury would really put Rondo's burgeoning reputation as a top star in jeopardy. At the time of the setback, he was the assists leader in the NBA for 2012 and even though he suffered the blow in January, he still finished the top dime-dropper in 2013.

Since then, it's been a turbulent ride. He failed to recapture his dynamic form straight after his return from ACL surgery and in truth, returned to a poorer Celtics unit.

He was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in 2014 after going under the knife again, this time, to correct a fracture to his left metacarpal. Injuries and controversy would mar his time in Texas, as an accidental knee to the face from teammate Richard Jefferson required yet another operation.

On top of that, he incurred a suspension for ripping into coach Rick Carlisle. His days were numbered, and his star had never been dimmer.

But, after taking a one-year deal with the Kings, Rondo has teamed up with DeMarcus Cousins to reassert himself as one of the best dishers in the game.

With an average of 11.9 assists an outing, Rondo leads the league - once again - in feeds. With his 27, the enigmatic playmaker lies third on the list of active players to record triple-doubles behind Russell Westbrook and LeBron James.

Whilst the Kings aren't contenders and Rondo has had a few regrettable, yet familiar outbursts during his time in Sacramento, he's still managed to rebuild his brand and establish himself, once again, as an elite playmaker within the league.

Following his stint at the Mavericks, Rondo was regarded as washed up and more trouble that he was worth. His quality since has spoken for him.

Considering the landscape of the NBA today and the evolution of the point guard embodied by Stephen Curry, Rondo might just be the very best playmaker left.

Eastern Conference
Rajon Rondo
Sacramento Kings
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division

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