WALTHAM, Mass. -- After the Boston Celtics named Brad Stevens their new head coach in July, the immediate (over)reaction from some observers was to wonder how he would possibly coexist with strong-willed point guard Rajon Rondo.
Rondo is too stubborn, they cried. He won't listen to a 36-year-old coach, they barked.
Three months later, as the Celtics ushered in the 2013-14 season with Media Day on Monday at the team's training facility, Rondo went out of his way to highlight the relationship that already has built between him and his new coach, noting that Stevens already has suggested books for him to read and emails him YouTube videos to watch.
"Me and Brad have become best friends," Rondo said. "We talk every day, we laugh and joke, we just had dinner the other night. I’m going to help him, he’s going to help me. He has my full support and I told him from Day 1 when he came to my [summer] camp [in Louisville in July for their first in-person meeting], I'm 100 percent behind him."
Rondo chuckled when told that some had wondered if the two could work together and noted how Stevens arrived at his Kentucky camp with no preconceived notions, just a desire for the two to lead the Celtics together.
"His communication lines have been great with me, ever since he became the coach," Rondo said. "He came to my camp the following week, or the same week he was hired. We spent some time together, about an hour and a half down at Kentucky. And ever since then he’s been texting me, he’s given me a couple books to read, he’s emailed me some things I should look up on YouTube. We’ve had lunch. We’ve had great communication so far.
"It was important for both of us to get off to a good start to get to know one another. This is his team, this is my team. Like I said, I’m very supportive of him, and he’s been very supportive of me."
Rondo admitted it's an adjustment with Stevens the first new coach of his NBA career. He did briefly praise his former coach.
"I give Doc [Rivers] a lot of credit. Doc was a great coach to play for. He was very hard on me, [but] he helped me become the player I am today and I give him a lot of credit," Rondo said. "But now he’s gone to LA, that’s that."
"I didn’t feel anything," Rondo said. "I actually landed in LA the night of the draft and I got like 45 text messages coming through the phone. I thought I was traded. Paul and Kevin were traded, I actually talked to both of them, text messages, and I talked to them on the phone. It’s part of the business. It’s not the first teammates that I’ve been close to that have been traded away -- [Kendrick Perkins] -- it’s part of the process. It’s a fresh start for us. We’ve got a new coach, entire new team.
"I’m excited about the fresh start. I’m excited every year with each team, but for me to get back on the court, I just want to compete. I haven’t competed in a while, and I’m a very competitive player and a very competitive person. I miss being out there on the court with my teammates and helping them win."