After Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler publicly criticised their Chicago Bulls teammates for not caring enough after a total collapse against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday, Rajon Rondo took exception to what was said and answered back on Instagram.
Rondo, Wade, and Butler were built up as a 'big three' tasked with taking the Bulls comfortably into the playoffs, but things have not gone to plan and after the loss against the Hawks left them with a record of 23-24, the two senior players decided to speak out and essentially blame the younger players on the team for not working as hard as them.
In the immediate aftermath of that loss, Wade said:
Everyone don't care enough. You got to care enough, man. It's got to mean that much to you to want to win. And it doesn't. … I don't know how you fix it. It just doesn't mean enough to guys around here to want to win ballgames. It [ticks] me off, but I can't be frustrated and I can't care too much for these guys.
This aggravated Rondo, who cited the examples set by Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in that outstanding Celtics team that won the NBA Championship in 2008.
Although he should have found a pic that included Ray Allen too, because Ray Allen is the man.
My vets would never go to the media. They would come to the team. My vets didn't pick and choose when they wanted to bring it. They brought it every time they stepped in the gym whether it was practice or a game. They didn't take days off. My vets didn't care about their numbers. My vets played for the team. When we lost, they wouldn't blame us. They took responsibility and got in the gym. They showed the young guys what it meant to work. Even in Boston when we had the best record in the league, if we lost a game, you could hear a pin drop on the bus. They showed us the seriousness of the game. My vets didn't have an influence on the coaching staff. They couldn't change the plan because it didn't work for them. I played under one of the greatest coaches, and he held everyone accountable. It takes 1-15 to win. When you isolate everyone, you can't win consistently. I may be a lot of things, but I'm not a bad teammate. My goal is to pass what I learned along. The young guys work. They show up. They don't deserve blame. If anything is questionable, it's the leadership.
Despite the irony in Rondo criticising their decision to speak publicly.. In public, he's certainly got a point. Butler and Wade are the leaders of that team and if they felt there was an issue with commitment they should have kept it in house. By airing their thoughts directly to the media, they opened the door to a public response.
However, this is not likely to end well for Rondo. He's is not the star he once was and is now a role player on that Bulls team, and an expensive one at that. If it comes down to whether Wade or Butler go, or Rondo goes, it's not even a question that the Bulls management have to ask as his production has continued to drop in recent years.
But fair play to him for sticking up for the younger guys on the roster. What Wade and Butler said helps absolutely nobody, and to react to a loss by pointing fingers at everyone else they are proving Rondo's questioning of their leadership to be correct.