The Bleachers King: Rondo in town

By Rick Olivares

Posted at Aug 30 2012 06:49 PM | Updated as of Aug 31 2012 02:49 AM

There’s really not much that is new in basketball. The only thing that changes are the stars who play the game. But the niftiest thing about the game is when you have a legitimate NBA superstar like Boston Celtic Rajon Rondo come to town and teach some kids his moves and little trade secrets.

Event organizer Danii San Agustin, the better half of my colleague, former Solar Sports marketing manager and Ateneo Football League organizer Rely San Agustin, noted that Rondo seemed to be coming around.

You see the Celtic’s starting point guard is a quiet and reserved person. He didn’t talk much in his first day in Manila last Monday where in his only public appearance, he got a shave. He didn’t talk much save for the questions asked his way by television host Boyet Sison.

But in the skills clinic he conducted for two hours at the playground of the Ronac Art Gallery along Ortigas Avenue, Pasig, he was jovial, talkative, and charming, noted Danii.

His friend, Coach Douglas Bibby (cousin of NBA star Mike Bibby) was more succinct in his observation, “He (Rajon) is in his element.”

Rondo, wearing Air Jordan VIIs, took some of the bright young stars from the NCAA and the UAAP where some professional coaches and players also took part in running.

He even made an unscheduled and impromptu question and answer with the media. Three questions and I got to ask one of them. Of course, I had all sort of Boston Celtic-related questions but when Danii passed me the microphone, I froze and simply asked, “Will we see you play again for the US national team?’

His answer was: “Yes, it’s an honor and if I am all right and healthy then I will.”

I thanked him for his answer and he looked at me and replied, “You’re welcome.”

In the briefest of exchanges, I saw a young man respectful of his place no matter what his status in life is at the moment. I also saw a NBA superstar who wasn’t shy in doing pushups (his team during the skills clinic lost every time out to the group handled by Coach Bibby). Rondo patiently pulled aside charges like La Salle’s Thomas Torres and Jose Rizal University’s Nate Matute to learn how to properly use their body in shielding the ball against a defender and making those wrong foot layups and drop steps.

“It’s like a dream,” said Jett Vidal, star for University of Perpetual Help System Dalta in the NCAA. “I only watch him on television and here he is, not much taller than all of us, teaching us how he plays in the NBA. It’s something I will try to do when I play and something I will remember forever.”

But Rondo is wrapping up his summer vacation before heads back to Boston to get ready for the new season. An intensely private person, the trip to Manila wasn’t all basketball. He also visiting San Juan National High School in Barangay Corazon de Jesus in San Juan where he will put the finishing touches on a court refurbishing project by sponsor Red Bull.

When asked what if he heard of how basketball crazy the Philippines is, he smiled and said, “Yes, that and how pretty the women here are as well.”