For reasons that are at best irrational and at worst downright stupid, I don’t like Rajon Rondo. He plays for a team I root against, he once trash-talked Chris Paul for not having any rings, and he is, by my estimation, an overrated player who probably didn’t belong on the All-NBA team. I dislike Rondo.
But as much (sports) hate as I have for him, I can’t help but appreciate a move that Rondo frequently uses; one that I’ve always admired and even tried at times when my coach wasn’t in the gym. The move, as you probably gathered from the video clip, is the fake behind-the-back pass. By my estimation, Rondo is the only current NBA player using it. Whether it’s a 2 on 1 fast break, or a broken halfcourt defense with a single defender under the hoop, Rajon will dramatically rotate his upper body while winging the ball way behind his back, sending the defender’s eyes searching for a nearby Celtic. With his opponent now missing in action, Rondo lays the ball in for an easy two.
I first saw this move performed by Minnesota’s Finest, Khalid El-Amin, at Rochester’s Mayo Civic Arena in an early-round state tournament game. The crowd ooh’d and ahh’d as Khalid gave us an MJ-like shoulder shrug. That was enough for me to take things to the driveway and learn this one for myself. There are two ways to execute it. There’s the Jason “White Chocolate” Williams method, where you actually cup the ball and make more of a pure pass fake. That requires less (or no) body rotation but risks letting the ball slip due to sweaty palms, small hands, or just an accident. Rondo’s method is less risky, which is why he is able to use it so often. He turns with the ball, using some concepts of physics that I can’t explain that keep the ball in control while still making a credible pass fake.
While this aging Boston team struggles to score points and produce highlights, the kids inside each of us that enjoy a good highlight can rest assured, knowing that Rajon Rondo will do what he can to entertain while amassing triple doubles and leading his team to playoff wins. Even if I don’t like or cheer for Rajon Rondo, I certainly appreciate a good showman.