Yes, that's been many a Bulls' fan chant in recent memory. Especially here at Blog-A-Bull. Those two words have been one of THE most popular BaB memes, lasting for several years. And in some eyes, for good reason. Simply put, Rajon Rondo just isn't well-liked by MANY basketball fans, let alone Bulls fans. Why is that, you may ask?
Exhibit A: Rondo vs. Brad Miller
Let's go to the tape:
This scene took place during overtime of game 5 of the EPIC playoff series against the Celtics, back in 2009. And if you remember, this was NOT called as a flagrant foul.
"It definitely is a flagrant foul," Del Negro said. "When a guy gets hit in the mouth and gets 10 stitches ... hopefully the officiating is consistent for both sides. That's all we're looking for as coaches."
Doc Rivers had a pretty LOL-worthy quote about this particular foul:
Even the Celtics could hardly hide their amazement. "It was a great foul by Rondo," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "You always talk about playoff basketball, no layups. Rondo did it on the very last play, and it won the game for us."
Come on Doc. Really? So starts Bulls fans' dislike of Rondo, and it was even addressed in his first meeting with the Chicago media:
Asked light-heartedly if the Miller foul was flagrant, Rondo ran with it.
"In today's game, yes. But back then, I was just trying to make sure he didn't make the layup," he said. "I don't think I'm a dirty player. I play to win. He had to make the free throws. He did. And we won (the series). So that's how it worked out."
Exhibit B: Look no further than this posts' main picture. Rondo vs. Kirk Hinrich
This scene took place during the FIRST quarter of game 6 of the EPIC playoff series against the Celtics, back in 2009.
Let's roll the tape, shall we?:
"I thought he gave me a cheap shot, I went back at him and that was about it," Hinrich said.
Rondo left without talking to reporters.
That playoff series was among the best in recent memory. The baby Bulls grew up before our eyes and were going toe-to-toe with the champs. In an already intense series, those two Rondo "cheap shots" just threw more gas on the burning flames.
Side note: if I'm not mistaken, I do believe that series also gave us THIS great (but hated) picture.
Amazingly, Rondo's two worst offenses in Bulls fans' memory, came in the same series, exactly 1 game apart, just a few quarters apart. From this point, on it was full-on hatred of Rondo for most Bulls fans.
Thinking more recently, how could anyone forget Rondo's tirade against referee Bill Kennedy last season:
In the game officials’ report used as part of the NBA's investigation – which includes details provided to Yahoo Sports from National Basketball Referee's Association general counsel Lee Seham – Kennedy and fellow referee Ben Taylor described Rondo's post-ejection diatribe as including the statements: "You're a mother------- faggot. … You're a f------ faggot, Billy."
Seham reported that a third official, Bennie Adams, outside of hearing distance, "affirmed that Rondo aggressively pursued referee Bill Kennedy and had to be restrained by teammates and escorted off the floor by Sacramento team security."
Yikes. Rondo hasn't been a model NBA citizen to say the least. But this piece isn't meant as a Rondo-bashing piece. It's meant to see if Bulls fans can forgive and emotionally move past the strong feelings. Granted, that will not be easy. It's SUPER hard to root for the enemy right?:
To his credit though, Rondo has said and done all of the right things since signing with the Bulls. Though he describes Butler, Wade and himself as the "three alphas" on the team, he had readily (and multiple times) acknowledged the Bulls as "Jimmy's team". He also spent time watching AND practicing with the Bulls' summer league team:
Rondo knows he has his work cut out for him:
"A lot is perception. Not to knock or anything, you make the bed, you lay in it," Rondo said. "As you get to know me — and you'll get to know me a little bit more, and coach (Fred) Hoiberg will get to know me — we'll see from there. I think I have a clean slate here, and these guys are looking forward and I'm just as thrilled to be here."
Even more to his credit, WAY before signing with the Bulls, Rondo has been mentoring a group of kids in Chicago, referring to themselves as "The Rondo 10".
"They need black mentors and black men as role models," Rondo told The Undefeated. "The biggest thing I can offer is my time. They need someone who knows that they care and if they have a question, they can ask."
"The kids struck with me with the way they think. The things they have to do every day that people don’t realize. The struggles. A lot of people don’t realize it. I want to show them different things in life. Dream bigger."
"I want to stick with these guys. If I can continue to grow the group, I will. I don’t want to just be in and out of their lives," Rondo said.
Even Rondo's harshest critics should be able to get behind something like that.
All in all, will you root for Rondo? Can you root for Rondo? Personally, though it has taken some time, I have gotten past my own dislike for him. I honestly look forward to watching what he brings to the team next season.
Is the basketball-fit still weird? Of course! Do I think the Bulls will win a chip with Rondo? Nope! Will Hoiberg be able to handle him? I doubt it. That being said, I do think I can find myself able to get beyond the emotional part of the Rondo acquisition. I honestly hope he succeeds.
By the way, I bet I know what the first comment will be...