Rajon Rondo sat in splendor, reclining in a deep leather armchair last night in a Four Seasons Hotel salon as 16 members of the Chinese media asked about the Celtics guard’s first signature sneaker.
The footwear, called the RR1 and made by the Chinese athletic goods giant Anta, had a special touch. Rondo helped designer Dwayne Edwards fashion the shoe.
But for all of this pan-Asian exposure — he is also launching his own Anta apparel line — Rondo is taking a gradual approach to rejoining the Celtics. His stock answer is that he will return during the 2013-14 season, and he has a good reason, not to mention several role models.
The Bulls’ Derrick Rose, who is only now coming back from 2012 ACL surgery, has been the anti-Adrian Peterson, who defied odds in his own ACL comeback to win the NFL MVP award last year with the Vikings.
But Rondo has complete appreciation for Rose’s deliberate approach, and how it mirrors his own.
“I understand, and he got a lot of heat for a while because he didn’t come back,” Rondo said. “Anybody who has an ACL injury understands. OK, Adrian Peterson came back in six months. Why did he come back in six months and others in eight months or 10 months? Everybody is different. Things can happen so differently with the knee. You can have swelling, you can have cartilage damage. So many things can happen that can cause a setback.
“Everybody is different. You can’t compare football to basketball. I talked to a lot of guys — Perk (Kendrick Perkins), (Tony Allen), I talked to (Wes) Welker to see what they went through. You try to come back quick because you’re itching for it. I’m itching because I’m so competitive.”
Rondo was itching before he ever went into surgery. He was said to initially target Peterson’s feat, but his research was too detailed to lead to an impulsive plan.
“Obviously, he came back and had an MVP season,” Rondo said of Peterson. “That’s what I want to have when I come back. I don’t want to come back and be mediocre. I don’t want to have any excuses. I want to be ready to go. I don’t want to have to blame anything on my knee.”
Nor does he want to obsess, or depress himself, over the trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn, or coach Doc Rivers’ departure for the Clippers. Though he and Rivers had stormy moments, Rondo turned a bit sentimental. “I still catch myself laughing at some of the things he’s told certain guys, and now I find myself quoting some of the things that Doc has said to individual guys,” Rondo said. “I’ve learned a lot from Doc. I’ve tried to study his ways as far as coaching, because I might want to coach someday myself.”
Though Rondo once said he didn’t “feel anything” at the time of the Brooklyn trade, he said, “That was blown out of proportion.
“Obviously it was different when the trade went down, but we were talking about them in the locker room today. I told some stories about things Paul did. I still talk to every one of those guys. I talked to Kevin yesterday. We still keep in touch with each other. It’s still a brotherhood. It’s not something you can forget. It’s a brotherhood for life.”
And Rondo continues to insist that he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“I love it here, the fans are great here, (president of basketball operations) Danny (Ainge) has been straight with me, so why would I want to leave?” he said. “Why would I want out? This is a brand new start for us as a team.”