BOSTON (CBS) – Paul Pierce spent the last 13 years of his career as captain of the Boston Celtics.

It was a role he grew into over time, learning the importance of a true leader on a team that expected to be a title contender year-in and year-out.

Pierce went through plenty of ups and downs throughout his Celtics career, and understands what the title of “Captain” entails.

Now with Pierce in Brooklyn, the duties of being a captain have fallen onto Rajon Rondo, who was named team captain upon his return from an ACL injury just over a week ago. It was an unexpected surprise for Rondo, but one that head coach Brad Stevens said his star player “earned” as he stayed with the teammates throughout his lengthy rehab.

Read: Pierce, Garnett Honored In First Trip Back To Boston

Many questioned if Rondo was ready, but two of his former teammates have plenty of confidence in the 27-year-old point guard.

“I think he’s ready now,” Pierce said of Rondo following Brooklyn’s 85-79 win over the Celtics on Sunday. “Rondo is mature, he understood what was coming. Before he had me and Kevin to lean on, and now he’s the guy. He’s the captain. He is who everybody looks to for leadership and I think he’s ready.”

“He’s grown, he’s matured. He’s seen the bottom, he’s seen the top,” said Pierce. “He’s got to understand that this is his team to lead through good and through bad. I think he understands that and he is ready for that role, and he’s ready to deal with it.”

Pierce, Garnett and Rondo got together for dinner on Saturday night, prior to Pierce and Garnett’s first return to Boston as members of the Nets. Both Pierce and Garnett went through their share of growing pains early in their careers, and can see a true leader in Rondo.

“I think he took notes last night as we were talking to him,” said Garnett. “More importantly I think we stressed to set the tone and be the example even when he didn’t want to. I always talk to him about being professional. Being a professional, you don’t get to pick and choose when you want to do that.”

“And just understanding the pedigree of a champion; that you don’t let losing become something usual. You keep that mentality up. Some are not gonna follow, but most will,” explained Garnett.

Photos: Pierce, Garnett Return To Boston With Nets

“Rondo is ready,” said Garnett. “I think he’s very comfortable in his role here. I think he understood the transition once it was happening. I think he’s the type of person that has the type of mentality with the personality to do just that. He’ll be alright.”



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