BOSTON (CBS) – Everyone on the Boston Celtics is putting “BirthdayGate” behind them, but nobody really knows what happened.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Wednesday morning, and though he really didn’t want to revisit the situation, Ainge finally put some closure to the situation with Rajon Rondo.
“I’d rather not talk about it – seriously, I’m not trying to hide anything. There’s nothing major to hide,” Ainge began. “I talked with Rajon about why he did what he did. I didn’t agree with it, but we had a good talk and we’re over it.”
Ainge said Rondo’s choice to skip the Celtics trip to Sacramento two weeks ago to remain in Los Angeles and celebrate his birthday with family and friends was “definitely something we needed to talk about,” but stressed that it “wasn’t any big deal.”
When pressed a little further, Ainge shed a lot more light on the situation.
“What happened was he stayed in [Los Angeles],” said Ainge. “He let [head coach] Brad [Stevens] know and he let me know that he was going to stay in L.A. an extra day, and we didn’t think that he should. But it was his choice and (we told him) there may be consequences if you stay. It was that simple.”
“In the end, him and I had a long talk about it. He planned it before and he had reason to believe it would be OK,” explained Ainge. “I understand his reason because of what he’s grown up with and what he’s witnessed. You won’t see it happen again, and we’ve just moved on from it.”
“I think that now Rondo understands more clearly what we want out of him as a captain,” said Ainge. “That we want him on the road with the team, and his leadership on the bench is important whether he plays or doesn’t.”
Ainge said he is glad that Rondo is the Celtics’ captain.
“He is definitely our captain whether anyone gave him the title or not. That’s his personality,” said Ainge. “He didn’t have the title the last five or six years, but he was still a captain. He was a coach on the floor and one of three or four captains with Paul, Ray and KG. They all act differently, and they all make mistakes by the way in their leadership roles, but I look at every guy on the team as a leader. You’re either leading guys to do better, or leading guys to do worse.
“I have no issues whatsoever with Rondo being our captain. He’s been acting like our captain for three or four years.”
Ainge said every player on the Celtics get treated the same way, and he actually likes the fire that Rondo shows off the court.
“Rondo is an emotional, stubborn kid. He’s very bright, and I don’t mind these kinds of emotions,” said Ainge. “What I care about is he a guy I want to play with, play for, if the guys on the team back him and want him on their side night-in and night-out. Those are the really important issues. Rondo is never going to become Tom Brady and say all the politically correct things and do everything we want him to do, but we still love him in spite of that because his teammates back him and want him on their side. They will go to war with Rondo, anytime.
“We’ve had a culture that has been a little different. It has been a great culture of winning, which is very important, and these kind of things have happened. We had a head coach that lived in a different city and would take different planes to different cities. We’ve had KG, who I think Rondo has learned more from as a leader and a pro than any other player. KG didn’t sit on the bench when he didn’t play, and Rondo has been doing that for every game, except that Sacramento game and Milwaukee game – which we held him back.
Ainge also touched on the possibility of having his number retired by the Celtics, and voiced his opinion on a potential 4-point shot in the NBA. Listen below: