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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Where do we put Rondo in UK lore?

29 points, 18 rebounds, 13 assists

It’s a stat line that would make Magic Johnson jealous.  Rajon Rondo has officially become “the man” on the Boston Celtics, a team that starts 3 Hall of Famers.  He is already a Top 5 NBA point guard, and with Steve Nash and Jason Kidd on the tail end of their careers, Rondo has a legit shot at being the best point guard in the league.  And while Deron Williams and Chris Paul have what I would call “prototypical” point guard games, Rondo has a unique style of play that only Nash can match. 

But, for those of us who watched him play at Kentucky, we have very mixed feelings about Rondo.  Rondo never really lived up the hype in Lexington that he came to UK with, as a 5-star instant impact player out of Oak Hill.  Don’t get me wrong, Rondo had his moments of stardom at UK, hitting several big shots, and becoming the season record holder in steals.  But, as UK fans tend to do, when Rondo was in Lexington, fans generally were unhappy with his play because he would go looooonnnnngggggg stretches with no impact on the game.  And as much as we would love to hold Rondo up on a pedestal as a UK great, let’s remember that he was nowhere near a fan favorite when he was here. 

The reason I bring this up is that Rondo is going to be the first player that I can remember who had a average UK career but a fantastic (theoretically) pro career.  And it brings up the question: where do we, as UK fans, put Rondo in our pantheon of great players.  Matt made a great point in his morning post about Rondo possibly becoming the greatest PRO player to ever come out of Kentucky.  And personally, that’s where I think he should end up.  But many people will lump Rondo’s pro career into his college career and call for a retired jersey.  I think this is preposterous.

Let me put it in another way (as Colin Cowherd does 400 times on his show a day): If we consider my “career” here at KSR, I would consider it less than stellar, and I have a gut feeling you would agree.  But, if in my later years, I suddenly learned to spell and form proper sentences, and became a world renowned author, I don’t think that suddenly props my KSR career up.  It’s not like suddenly my posts  that I wrote here was top quality.  That’s how I see Rondo, his play at UK was average, his play in the NBA has become spectacular, and the two are seperate. 

Rondo’s Career UK Stats
9.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 2.2 spg, 28.3% 3P

Since I know this will get started in the comments section: TUBBY WAS NOT FULLY TO BLAME FOR RONDO’S PLAY AT KENTUCKY.  Did Tubby’s system emphasize a more half court game than full court?  Yes, there is no doubt.  And Tubby should have upped the pace some when Rondo was at UK.  BUT BUT BUT, instead of working on his jump shot, if I remember correctly, Rondo basically sulked about the pace of play.  It was the main reason he appeared uninterested at times in Lexington, and his relationship with the fans suffered.  Nonetheless, I would say the blame was 50-50 between Tubby and Rondo.

But, the point of this rant was the ask what you think: Should Rondo, when its all said and done, be considered an all-time great UK player?  I say no because I don’t put the pro career on top of the college career.  But I am kinda interested what UK fans think.  Has all the tension during Rondo’s college career now subsided due to his success in the pros?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

50 responses to “BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Where do we put Rondo in UK lore?”

  1. Red Rooster

    No. The kid wasn’t in the starting five for a period of time on Tubby’s squad.

  2. uksmitty

    Put him in the Dribble drive and watch out.. It may not be all Tubby’s fault as attitude certainly
    had something to do with it but if he had played for Calipari I dont think we would even be
    asking this question.

  3. JmeNFunchester

    In a different system and a different time he could have been an all time great at Kentucky. With the system he was in and his relationship with the fans-not so much.

  4. PatrickPattersonISwalkingthruthatdoor

    Speak for yourself, BTI. I loved Rondo while he was in Lexington. Dude put up HUGE rebound stats in several games his soph year and he was much more likable than Sparks. I understand there might’ve been a little disappointment with his stats, but the same could be said for the other three members of that recruiting class (Crawford and Bradley’s senior season aside). Chuck was the only super-likable member of that Elite Eight team, mainly bc Sparks was a bit of an *sshole, Azubuike was aloof, and Morris was, well, Morris.

  5. slave2Jesus

    Only if his greatness ascends to the level that it seems ridiculous not to have his jersey in the rafters. He would have to become Jordanesque for this to happen. Otherwise no.

  6. goukcatsgo

    Rondo was great. His coach had no idea how to use those talents… imagine Rondo under Cal’s watch…

  7. GoCats2

    Placing him as an all-time great is more a matter of pride for our University. We take him as one of our own so we love him and consider him an all-time great. His jersey should NEVER be retired but he should be respected as one of ours. Might be a strange comparison but it reminds me of J.B. Holmes. No one knew him or cared while he was here but we all love him now because he is one of ours.
    Speaking of showing love to our own, they asked Mashburn on Mike & Mike if anyone knew Rondo would be this good and Mash said well he is from Kentucky so of course I knew he would be this good! Way to go Mash!

  8. TOMPAV83

    As I remember, the issue at the time was Team Chemistry so to put all of it on Rondo NOW is unfair. Sure I would’ve like to see more out of him but we need to embrace every single player that goes to the league, whether they play the entire game or ride the pine.

  9. echo 1

    You are correct BTI. The college career has nothing to do with the pro career. In UK lore, he should be judged only on what he accomplished while playing in Lexington. Sam Bowie was a great player at UK, but had a rather disappointing pro career (through no fault of his own). Bowie is judged by UK fans based upon his time in college, not in the pros. The same standard should be applied to Rondo. His UK stats don’t warrant any special affinity. Furthermore, it isn’t as if he had the charisma angle going for him when he played at UK, or in Boston for that matter.

  10. GoCats2

    #4 perfect answer. I loved watching Rondo because he was so damn fast. Wall might be faster but Rondo would amaze me watching him go end to end.

  11. syrin23

    Testing the registration

  12. Laker Cat 18

    Can’t wait to see the first Rondo vs. Wall match-up next year. That will be awesome.

  13. Onions McOnion


  14. bluesince66

    Tubby was more like 70% of the reason Rondo was no better than he was at UK. He’s putting up allstar numbers against the best players in the world and was average stat wise at UK. If Tubby had used him correctly he may have been the best pg ever at UK. He just tied the all time assist record for the Celtics last week and as much of a UK homer as I am I think the Boston tradition and history is greater than UK’s. As far as his UK jersey being retired I don’t think so.

  15. jorts4life

    Ahhhhhh, thank you for bringing back registration. Agree that I can’t wait to see Rondo/Wall go at it next year.

  16. board@work

    @GoCats2: nobody had heard of J.B. Holmes when he was a cat because at the time he went by John.
    As a student at the time I was always looked in the Kernel to see how long and far John Holmes would go.

  17. blueblue

    I think it is still too early in Rondo’s career to decide where he belongs in UK lore. There are two things I want to see from him. First, I want to see him continue his career on the same path he is now. Then, I want to see what his behavior is after his basketball days are over. Does he give back to the university?? Does he become an active member of the BBN?? If he makes himself a rooting member of the BBN and shows appreciation by doing his part to help financially support the program, then of course his jersey belongs in the rafters. If he’s a snob and acts like Randy Moss does to Marshall and forgets UK and the BBN exists, then of course he does not belong in UK lore.

  18. katmancsm

    Thanks for registration. It brings me back.

  19. chadspalding

    ONCE again the youth is being shown. If Rondo has a great nba career then yes by all means retire his jersey. The impact that could have on future recruits could be great.

  20. JoeBandDenny

    Registration is good

  21. truBLU

    I knew Rondo was great before he ever played at UK. I remember watching his quickness with/without the ball in high school and I told everyone that would hear me that this kid is gonna be special. I know that doesn’t mean much now on a msg board but I still remind my friends who said he wasn’t anything special. Honestly I had no idea he would be THIS good, but to anyone that knows basketball I think it was clear that he was an NBA talent from the start because of his quickness if nothing else. Best defensive guard that has ever played at UK in my lifetime. Hawkins is a close 2nd…ok maybe Dale Brown…

  22. TonyDelk00

    Mixed feelings here. I think if he makes it into the NBA Hall of Fame one day then his jersey can be retired here. Other than that, no. blueblue makes a good point at 18 when he mentions giving back to the university. I can go with that too.

  23. ogtrips

    I don’t think his jersey should be retired simply because he was a two year player. Are Antoine Walker and Ron Mercers jersey’s going to be retired? probably not. Both of those players led us to two final fours and a national title. I simply think if you go to the NBA after your first two years there is not enough commitment to the University to be consired to have your jersey raised to the rafters. John Wall may deserve to have his jersey retired, but I think the only way he would have is if we won it all. Players leaving for the NBA must be tolerated and understood, but we have to realize the negative impact these players put on the program for making these decisions. Players like Hayes, Delk, Bogans, Prince, and Padgett deserve more hone than Rondo, Wall, Mercer, and Walker. Don’t take this wrong, I have absolutely no problem with one and done players, and there will be a championship team featuring one and done players, but players leaving college for the NBA is something coaches should understand not encourage.

  24. ogtrips

    Rondo also wore a filthy cards hat in the locker room.

  25. Alpo11soccer

    Answer to the question is NO, as an all-time great UK player. The system, attitude, hype, etc all play a factor into that. Will his jersey be hanging from the rafters some day, most likely, because you take his “career” as a whole in consideration for that. But then again it is UK and they are pretty selective on who they put up there…where is Delk, Hayes (2 that I think shoudl be up there)?

  26. HankKingsley

    BTI – another shockingly bad post, although it picked up a lot of steam in the fourth paragraph. You are like Skip Bayless, speaking and writing for shock value, except I don’t think you are doing it on purpose.

    Rondo was a five star point guard, but was the least heralded of the bunch. Telfair, Livingston, and Steele were all ranked higher than him, as well as Morris and Crawford that year. Rondo was one of the best freshman in the country that year, breaking UK’s single season steals record and starting on a 2 seed UK team that was a few rebounds away from a final four. Rondo’s next year was greatly influenced by Morris’ suspension and Sparks’ inconsistent play, however Rondo still led the team in rebounding from the point guard position and hit at least one game winner, but was also incredible in the clutch during a lot of close SEC games that year. He was abused by Florida three times that year, but who in college wasn’t?

    Rondo lived up to the hype coming out of college, because individually he didn’t come in with a lot of hype. I fondly remember Rondo’s UK career, and although it wasn’t “retired jersey good,” he had a lot of memorable moments. He was limited by a bad team in his sophomore year and suprisingly good SEC (Florida and LSU were surprises that year).

    I feel as though you are insinuating UK fans will remember Rondo greatly solely for his NBA career, even though they weren’t fans when he was in college, while you seem to be knocking his college career for how good he has become in the NBA. His NBA career has clearly been filled with much more success than his college career, but let’s not tarnish his UK legacy for how much better he has gotten in the NBA.

  27. GoCats2010

    I doubt his UK legend grows but…

    One name, Johnny Unitas. Did very little for the Tards, but he has a freaking statue now

  28. Wedding Planner

    I was pleasantly surprised but Rondo is fairly engaged with BBN – in one of his recent charity events with other Celtics, he was dressed in UK gear (head-to-toe). He seems much more engaged than Antoine Walker, Jamaal Mashburn or Ron Mercer. Rondo was coming to midnight madness this past year until Doc Rivers scheduled a practice.

    The other guy totally engaged is Tayshaun Prince. Prince really is the best UK wildcat in modern times to me.

  29. dsoco88

    Rondo and the Tubbs obviously did not get along. Rondo always looked pissed on the bench. I remember during the last 2 minutes of each game is when Tubbs would let Rondo basically run his own offense that resulted in 75% of his points. That big recruiting class looked nice on paper, but when it came down to it, they did not mesh well and it was the last ditch effort by Tubbs to appease the Big Blue Nation. Rondo, in a different system, would of been a hell of a college player. But in Tubbs Big 10 style of play he could not flourish.Finally, Rondo is obviously a head case (the constant rumors of him not getting along with his teammates in Boston further backs up my argument)because Boston was fielding trade offers for him last season.

  30. UKFan14

    I disagree with #27. BTI’s definately doing it on purpose! Keep it up BTI!!

  31. tdelk00

    Rondo wasn’t in the right system with tubby. He is an up and down the court type player and that wasn’t what tubby played like. Rondo had his jump shot changed the moment he arrived on campus and the fans hated him. I for one loved him, and while i won’t be popular on here i always would have rather had rondo on the court than sparks. He doesn’t rank higher than chuck hayes or tony delk imo because his numbers and he left early, but rondo was a good player at uk

  32. Marcus L. Owens

    When Rondo had NBA talent around him Morris, Hayes, Azubuike, *Crawford Kentucky went to the Elite 8 and was one rebound away from the final four. An if YOU were watching he was the best player on that team by far. Highlight dunks, pin point passes, steals record he was the man on the last good team Tubby coached. His soph year with the addition of Rakalin Simms and no other recruits worth mentioning that team struggled. Thats not Rondo thats the coach. Rondo would not have the success he is having without the talent around him. I loved Rondo from day one of at Blue White game during mid night maddness simply because it was obvious that he was that type of superior athlete KY rarely landed. He was great his freshman year but even during his sophomore year he did what he could with what he had. Some times UK fans judge player simply on whether or no they can shoot and that is so unfair. This kid was good at UK and is getting better in the NBA. And guess what he comes back to Lexington and works out with the guys ans supports the program and is a true ambassador for the university. Much respect to the UK Rondo and the NBA all-star Rondo. If you were watching you could see this kid was going to be special. BAD POST INTERN!!

  33. justacatfan

    If a player completes his education. I have no problem with their jersy being hung from the rafters.

  34. big blue daddy

    I think of Rondo a lot like I felt about Prince. During his time at UK I thought Tayshaun was a good player but only on rare occassions did he dominate and assert his greatness. I looked at Rondo the same. Since both of their pro careers revealed so much than they showed at times in Lexington, it sometimes frustrtrates me that we did not see this while they donned the blue and white. However the NBA gave their games more freedom than they had in their time under Coach Smith. That is not a knock on Tubby.. It just shows the lack of congruence with his style and extremely talented players who seemed to “underachieve”… Although I do not follow the NBA closely after these guys leave the program, I still like to hear they are doing well.

  35. HankKingsley

    BTI – Bingo. Skip Bayless is on First Take every day because he is unpopular. And First Take is on ESPN 2 every day because it is unpopular. And I assume ESPN spent way too much money on a long contract deal with Skip Bayless, so he remains on First Take, and appears on absolutely nothing else the station does.

  36. bc2834

    I think a lot of what Rondo did at UK had to do with his supporting cast. He couldn’t do all he could do with the players around him.

  37. kleeofus

    Without Rondo during his soph year we might not have made the tourney. He couldn’t help it that Buike left early, teams were keying in on Sparks, and Morris thought he was ready to compete with Dwight Howard.

  38. E Cat

    First, Rondo was stellar as a frosh. Struggled his sophomore campaign a bit, but not all his fault. His game definitely translates better to the NBA style. What probably frustrated him most is that Tubby was on the record prior to Rondo’s second year saying he would speed up the pace. Didn’t happen. Also, Rondo’s forwards as a sophomore were Bobby Perry and Sheray Thomas. Not a knock on a couple of good kids, but Rondo didn’t have a lot of talent surrounding him that second year (Morris missed half the year). His attitude probably could have been better, but I can see why he’d be frustrated.

  39. Mr.House

    Ok, so did people here just say that Mashburn hasn’t been involved with the program post-college and that Prince didn’t dominate during his time at UK? What?! Mashburn has always been one of UK’s biggest ambassadors and is still actively involved with the program. And Prince……….do I even need to mention the UNC game? God, I really wonder if some of you guys are even paying attention.

    As far as Rondo goes, I loved the guy here at UK. I thought that he was unfairly blamed for his sophomore year. UK fans are a weird bunch anyways: Tubby was unpopular back then, yet one of the criticisms of Rondo was that he clashed with Tubby. Same goes with Liggins and Billy Clyde. It’s like some stupid honor system. Anywho, don’t retire Rondo’s jersey. There’s so many other players who have played in the last 20 years who did more while at UK.

  40. blueblue


    I’d like to see KSR do some research and put up a post about Cat alums and just how involved they are today with the program as far as donating their time and money to the program. In particular, all of those who have been fortunate to have NBA careers. Rondo, Mashburn, Prince, Chapman… those are the four I would like to know about most. Walker, we all know has struggled. But how much have these great talents who have passed through given back?? Davender, Millar…those are bad stories. Give us some feel good info on Cat alums!!


    With Rondo having this much success as a pro…imagine what Wall is gonna do in the NBA! If Wall keeps his work ethic and stays hungry, he will absolutely amaze in the pros!

  42. FlavorOfTheMeeks

    I still find it hard to judge Rondo’s UK career, simply because he was placed in a system that didn’t utilize his talents. As countless others have stated, put him on a Calipari team and the results would have been there.

    If the kid keeps putting up numbers like this, it’s gonna be hard to not consider him a UK great.

  43. dano

    Right now, the only #4 that belongs in the rafters is named Macy.

    The Ten Loss Anchor kept RR from being a great at UK. Brandon Stockton as the starter?

    Kind of like having a Ferrari and using it in a swamp buggy race.

  44. gossie21

    Rondo wasn’t a fan favorite because our fans were assholes.

    Rondo is not all-time great player at UK, simply because his stats don’t support it. But Rondo is, without any colorable argument to the contrary, one of the greatest all-time talents to play at UK.

    Tubby may not have “held Rondo back,” but he certainly had absolutely no clue what to do with him. Anyone with vision and an operational brain could tell that Rondo was 10x the player he showed in Tubby’s mule-plow offense. Further, his sophomore year was basically useless since he was dishing assists (or attempting to dish them) to Sheray Thomas, Bobby Perry, Ravi Moss, Woo, a fat Patrick Sparks, Rekalin Sims and a part-time motivated Randolph Morris. I don’t think John Stockton, Steve Nash, or Chris Paul could have done much with that roster.

  45. big blue daddy

    Yes Mr. House I did say that about Prince. He had the most varied skill set of any player Other than
    Mahburn or A. walker in the last 25 years. He had great shooting performances versus unc and Tulsa and some all around great games in the 2001 sec tourney in nashville and a stellar 2nd round game versus Iowa in the same year… Yes he hit big shots during his career like the game winner versus fla., but there were many games where he coasted in and out and showed little desire
    to take over games that he easily could have… Am I paying attention? Yes. He was a 17-18 pt game scorer his jr and sr season but rarely took games over… I thought he played with greater passion once he became a member of the Pistons…one of my closest coaching friends works his camp in Lexington and swears he is the nicest guy. I pull for him, but I did not think he achieved his full potential while at UK. Not bashing him, just offering an opinion.

  46. emp3838

    To me, Rondo’s time at UK will be remembered as POTENTIAL. His was certainly not one of the greatest UK careers while in Lexington. Having said that, it will not surprise me if he becomes the greatest UK player to play in the NBA. At Boston, he’s been in an ideal situation for his skills. If he remains there, his future will depend on how the Celtics deal with their aging roster.

  47. AssistByJohnWall

    Tubby held kids back to keep them in school period end of story. There are many examples of this, and as a fan at the time I kind of thought it was smart. The only friction between Tubby and Rondo was that Rondo wasn’t getting a chance to play his best game, and he knew it.

    Also, Tubby didn’t intentionally recruit 4 year guys, he just couldn’t consistently get the blue chippers so he embraced it as a “strategy.” It was a crock of chitlins.

    When you get the same calibur players at Georgia, UK, and Minnesota, the pattern lets you see where he belongs as a coach. He’s much better at the bottom looking up than the top looking down.

  48. The Stitch Doctor

    Guys, lets be real here. Tubby and Rondo were like sand paper rubbing together. Tubby frustrated Rondo and Rondo couldn’t stand Tubby and would not conform. When Tubby conducted “try-outs” at the beginning of the season, Rondo said, “It’s over” sum it up…TUBBY SUX.PERIOD

  49. Rajay333

    No, no, no….Tubby was not to blame. He was only the coach – who didn’t know how to coach (much less teach) offense. It was Gillispie’s fault!!