The Dallas Mavericks had a New York Yankees throwback moment in the third quarter of Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors. With the Mavs trailing 62-53 Carlisle apparently called a play which veteran point guard Rajon Rondo ignored. Rondo, being a product of the "newer" genration, obviously prefers his freestyle swing to his written rotations.
Carlisle furiously ran out onto the court and called a timeout then gave Rondo a college-style tongue-lashing and benched him (publicly humiliating his star point guard in the process).
Rondo, being the grown man, millionaire and prideful African-American brother he is, spit some volatile and offensive hood English back at his coach. The emotionally-turnt up incident spilled into the locker room after the game sources told ESPNDallas.com, and the Mavs subsequently announced Rondo's suspension a little more than two hours before Wednesday's tipoff.
Rondo, a four-time NBA All-Star acquired in a trade with the Boston Celtics on Dec. 18, traveled with the team overnight to Atlanta but did not play in Wednesday night's 104-87 loss to the Hawks.
"The events of last night are now in the past, and we've got to move forward," Carlisle said to open his pregame media availability Wednesday. "I need to say this very clearly: He is an extremely important part of our team. Our efforts to get to the highest possible level largely hinge on him playing and playing well with him. He needs to play well with us, and we need to play well with him. It's a two-way street.
"The incident last night was born in large part out of poor communication between him and I. That's on both of us. We had a long talk about the situation today, and we both agreed that we need to communicate more frequently. We need to work on the solution for making his stint as a Dallas Maverick the most successful one possible. We're looking at 23 games here. Right now, this is a critical time for us."
In my opinion, Rondo caught a double whammy. Not only did Carlisle embarrass the NBA champion like some two-bit rookie scratching to stay in the league or some young, hot shot who hasn’t grasped the team concept; He then suspends Rondo for not laying down and accepting the degradation.
Mavs star forward Dirk Nowitzki is not a fan of the behavior exhibited by both culprits, but he does think Carlisle should let Rondo do what he do.
“We won the game but stuff like this is never good,” Nowitzki said on NBA TV. I think Rajon has been in the league a long time, he knows how to play, and I guess he feels that he needs a little bit more leverage out there, but this is not for me to decide.”
Interestingly enough, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on his First Take show that Carlisle has nothing to be remorseful about and with the shaky way that Rondo has been playing (averaging just 9.0 points and 6 assists per game) as he tries to stay 100 percent healthy and run a new offense, “an argument can be made that there are 15 point guards better than him right now.”
That’s typical Stephen A. hyperbole, but even if it is true, Smith also spoke of Rondo’s impeccable NBA resume and big-game gangster. He deserved better than that on Tuesday night.
The same way the great Reginald Martinez Jackson didn’t deserve to have Yankees skipper Billy Martin attempt to emasculate him during a game in the 1977 season, because he felt Jackson didn’t hustle to the ball after Boston’s Jim Rice turned a blooper into a double. In the middle of the inning, Martin pulled Jackson from the game and inserted Paul Blair.
That's the only time I’ve only seen a player get yanked off the MLB field during a game. Martin sonned Reggie like a Little Leaguer who was picking his nose instead of tracking a fly ball. Imagine the humiliation a proud, elite baller experiences under those circumstances. It must have been tough.
It’s like a, “I’m going to put you in your place boy” moment that reeks with racial undertones. Once Jackson got back to the dugout, the two men almost came to blows because of the incident and had to be restrained. They were two firecrackers going at it. Martin stands by his claim that he yanked Reggie because he wasn’t hustling, but Jackson was already a home run hitting beast, MLB All-Star and the heart of an Oakland A’s lineup that won three consecutive World Series championships between 1972-1974. He didn’t need any “special” concern from Billy. He already had the skills to pay the bright-light, big-city bills. It was clear that the two men were like Vodka and milk -- going out blastin' and just didn’t care for each other.
Rondo has always been a bit ornery as a player, even during his days with the Boston Celtics. Somewhat moody and immensely confident in his ability to run the show at the highest levels. Rondo’s pill-game is extreme and he’s had those 11-plus assist seasons and 20-plus assist games that HOF point guards rack up. He will always play with a chip on his shoulder because although Rondo was the first point guard chose in the 2006 NBA Draft, he was a low first-round pick (21st by Phoenix Suns) coming out of Kentucky.
While he was maturing as a Celtics floor general under the tutelage of “The Big Three,” Rondo never received the credit and props like a cop that Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce received. He was coached hard by Doc Rivers and the bar was set in the stars for Rondo as far as what was expected from him on the court. He’s earned his stripes in the NBA and I’d be a bit ticked off too if a coach acted as if I’ve never killed my competition before. Running wildly onto the court on some Bobby Knight, white-man-gone senile tip and trying to scream on Rondo’s ass like his dad…bring it on…bring the mutha’ fuckin ruckus..bring the mutha’ fuckin ruckus.
Carlisle thought he was P.Diddy in a business meeting with a broke, disillusioned, failing artist. He’s lucky Rondo didn’t Latrell Sprewell him and choke him out in front of everybody at Philips Arena.
Carlisle’s no punk, but the manner he chose to express himself merely dictated Rondo’s aggressive response. Men know how that goes. Respect commands respect when you’re keeping it 100. Carlisle was wilding and he could have calmly called a timeout and addressed the situation about play-calling with his floor general at the appropriate time.
Same goes for Billy Martin, who everybody recognized as a Yankees legend with a phenomenal baseball I.Q. and managerial pedigree that was trumped only by his drinking and pugnacious nature. Almost from the day Jackson signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Yankees after the 1976 season, he and manager Martin just couldn't see eye-to-eye.
Martin, a grit and grind infielder from the Yankees' 1950s dynasty teams, couldn't stand the flamboyance, eloquence and confidence of Jackson and considered him a prima donna. From Jackson's perspective, he could do nothing to win the manager's favor. .
However, Mavs fans should hope the similarities between the incidents don’t stop there. Despite their differences, brawling Billy, who as a 60-year-old Yankees manager once got hospitalized in a well-publicized, drunken bar fight and the self-adulating Jackson kept the peace long enough for the Yankees to win their first World Series in 15 years during the 1977 season and then repeat again in ’78. Jackson would hit three home runs in one World Series game and cement himself as “Mr. October”, the most feared postseason hitter of a generation.
In light of recent events, Rondo’s final 23 games with the Mavs, plus the playoffs might be his final run with the squad anyway as Rondo becomes a free agent at the end of the season. For the same reason, it’s also different from the battles Carlisle and Jason Kidd would have during their first season together before eventually winning a chip. It wasn’t nearly as publicized on national TV. They worked through it and Carlisle eventually ceded control to Kidd in midseason.
When Dallas acquired Rondo owner Mark Cuban said publicly that the plan wasn't to make him a rental. His plan was to build a starting five of Rondo, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Nowitzki and Chandler -- a monster squad that was supposed to challenge for NBA supremacy. Proof of Dallas’ initial commitment to Rondo is evident in the fact that they gave up a first-round pick, a second-round pick and three role players for him.
Those plans are looking shaky right now. If I’m Rondo I’m not messing with Rick The Ruler. There are plenty of teams who desire Rondo’s services, my hometown Knicks being one of them. He won’t be starving for offers. He also won’t be looking to make friends at his next destination. He’s not against joining a brotherhood, but you kind of got to let Picasso paint on that court and when Rondo is your point guard sometimes you’re going to have to kind of let him pout. Slave tactics in coaching went out with the center position. Carlisle needs to relax.