Rajon Rondo earned another suspension for losing his cool on the basketball court Wednesday night in a game against the Brooklyn Nets. This time it was an emotional reaction to a hard foul by Kris Humphries on Kevin Garnett that caused him to push the Nets forward into the stands. Rondo’s actions have put the Boston Celtics in a tight spot, as they will have to play their next two games without the National Basketball Associations assists leader. However, this is not a new position for the team to be in, on two other occasions this past calendar year they have had to play without their All-Star point guard
His suspensions to date have not proven costly to the Celtics. Last February after he was suspended two games for throwing the basketball at a referee in Detroit, the team went on to lose both games, but were still able to win the Atlantic Division title. Rondo’s second suspension was levied after he bumped an official during Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Atlanta Hawks. This could have been catastrophic for the Celtics, as the point guard’s actions earned him a one game suspension that made him unavailable to play in Game Two of the series. With the Celtics behind one game, losing the second game would have made it extremely difficult for the team to prevail over the Hawks and advance to the Semifinals. Fortunately for Rondo, his team went on to win Game Two and the Quarterfinal series, thus bailing him out of any negative repercussions for his actions.
It is too early to tell what impact Rondo’s actions will have on the Celtics this time. In the short term it could cause the team to fall further behind their Atlantic Division rivals in the standings. Over the long haul it could cost the Celtics home court in the playoffs.
Nevertheless, whatever happens to the Celtics this season, their success or failure will depend on Rondo’s ability to stay on the court. He has emerged as one of the best players in the league, but in order for him to reach the expectation of being a player capable of leading the Celtics to a NBA championship he has to learn how to control his emotions. Otherwise, he becomes a liability, because the team cannot trust that he will be on the court at the most crucial times.