Rajon Rondo recently stated to ABS-CBN news that he hopes he is able to end his career "as the best to ever play" point guard in the history of the Boston Celtics. This is an admirable goal, but since he plays for a National Basketball Association team that had Bob Cousy on its roster for thirteen seasons, it is an unattainable one.
Cousy is on a short list of the most dominant NBA players of the 1950's. He amassed a career of achievement that was unrivaled upon his retirement in 1963 and five decades later has only been matched by a small number of players. He was a thirteen-time All-Star, a twelve-time All-NBA team selection, a two-time All-Star game Most Valuable Player, the 1957 regular season MVP and a member of six Celtic championship teams. Furthermore, he led the league in assists eight times, was an eighty percent career free-throw shooter and a bona-fide scoring threat. He averaged over twenty points per game four times and twice finished second in the NBA in average points scored per game.
A more attainable goal for Rondo would be to finish his career as one of the five best point guards in Celtics history, but even this will not be an easy accomplishment. Besides Cousy, the Celtics have had three Hall of Famers and a perennial All-Star play the position. K.C. Jones, Jo Jo White, Nate "Tiny" Archibald and Dennis Johnson, all dominant point guards who have been interchangeable in spots two through five behind Cousy for the past twenty-five years. Rondo alluded to the difficulty of breaking into this list when he also commented to ABS-CBN news that "it is kinda too early to place my mark on where I am in Celtics history as a point guard."
With so many great predecessors it is easy to see how Rondo is unsure about his present ranking on the team's all-time point guard list. Jones was considered an elite defensive point guard before such talents were recognized by the NBA with regular season awards. He played on eight Celtic championship teams and was the man who succeeded Cousy. His efforts earned him an induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989.
White played point guard on two Celtic championship teams and was a major reason why the franchise was the most dominant NBA team of the mid 1970's. He was named to seven consecutive All-Star teams, a two-time second team All-NBA selection, the 1976 Finals MVP and was one of the elite scoring point guards of his era. Although he has yet to be inducted, his credentials are worthy of being a member the Hall of Fame.
Archibald came to the Celtics on the downside of an All-Star career that included being the only player to ever lead the NBA in assists and scoring in the same season. With the Celtics he was named to three more All-Star teams, earned the 1981 All-Star MVP award and won a championship. Archibald's achievements with the Celtics made him a Hall of Fame player and he was inducted in 1991.
Johnson joined the Celtics in 1983 and helped the team win two championships and take four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals. During his seven seasons with the Celtics Johnson was a four-time selection to the All-NBA Defensive team and a 1985 All-Star. His defensive play on Magic Johnson in the 1984 Finals is considered key to the Celtics championship victory that season. Like Archibald, Johnson's achievements with the Celtics catapulted him from excellent to Hall of Fame status, he was inducted in 2010.
Rondo's achievements to date are impressive. He is a three-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA Defensive team selection, and helped the Celtics win the 2008 championship. He also led the 2012 NBA season in average assists per game and holds the franchise record for consecutive games with double-digit assists. But however remarkable these accomplishments, by themselves they are not enough for Rondo to presently crack the Celtics top five all-time point guard list.
The four men who currently sit behind Cousy have established such a high standard for point guard play in a Celtic uniform that the only way for Rondo to surpass any of them is to be inducted in to the Hall of Fame. Only time will tell if he is able to complete such a career and if he does the debate regarding his place on the Celtics list of greatest point guards can truly begin.