BOSTON – Rajon Rondo didn’t only make his return Friday night. He also made history.
Rondo was named the 15th captain in Boston Celtics history in a subtle move that took place just minutes before the team tipped off against the Los Angeles Lakers.
After announcing the starting lineup for the Lakers, public address announcer Eddie Palladino moved on to the Celtics. He announced Kris Humphries. Then he announced Avery Bradley. Then Jared Sullinger. Then Jeff Green.
And then, the 15th captain in Celtics history.
“And now,” Palladino announced for the very first time, “at the other guard, 6-foot-1 from Kentucky, the captain, number nine… Rajon Rondo!”
The TD Garden crowd bellowed as they watched the newest captain in Celtics lore run onto the court and greet his teammates. The Celtics and their fans have been waiting 51 weeks for this moment. Now they have Rondo. Now they have their captain.
Rondo was bestowed with the ‘captain’ moniker by the Celtics franchise, but most notably president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and head coach Brad Stevens. Ainge and Stevens stand as the two men who have been by Rondo’s side throughout this transition season. They’ve watched him lead on a daily basis, regardless of his injury. They believe in Rondo, and they believe that he is the ultimate leader.
For Stevens, only seven months have passed since he and Rondo met for the first time at the point guard’s camp in Kentucky. It didn’t take Stevens nearly that long to realize that Rondo possesses all of the qualities that warrant a team’s captainship.
"I've always believed that captains name themselves with their leadership on and off the court,” Stevens told Celtics.com. “This isn't about us naming Rondo captain. This is about him earning that title through his play as a Celtic, his accountability as a leader of this team, and his commitment to the Boston community."
Coincidentally, Rondo also received the December Community Assist Award, in recognition of his numerous charitable efforts and long history of generosity in the community, prior to the contest.
Rondo becomes the first Celtics captain not named Paul Pierce since 2003. He joins an elite list that includes Celtics Legends such as Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Larry Bird and Pierce. Rondo is just the third point guard to become captain of the Celtics, joining Cousy and Dee Brown.