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The Rondo Move That Rankles Me

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 19, 2008

I love Rondo, I really do. The way he pulls down rebounds he has no right to have even a hand on; his nose for loose balls that is better than anyone since Jason Kidd in his prime; the clean strips of pro ball handlers at halfcourt (so nakedly embarrassing); his ability to get anywhere he wants with the dribble; his never changing demeanor. Still, he does one thing that just sort of irks me and I don’t know exactly why. It’s that fake-behind-the-back-pass that he invariably does three or four times a game. 

I’m not quite sure why it bugs me. It’s a fairly common playground move, been around 20-30 years: you stick the ball (helpful if you have big hands or a sticky ball – Spalding TF-1000s are good for it) between your hand and forearm and go to make the behind-the-back pass and just pull it back. Maybe it’s because I’m surprised that NBA defenders, players who HAVE TO had read in the scouting reports – “Rondo loves to fake the behind the back pass with his right hand; don’t go for it, you’ll look stupid” – but they still go for it. Didn’t these guys listen when being taught the fundamentals – play the ball handler’s bellybutton? Hasn’t that been taught since time immemorial (in other words, since when I was a kid)? That move, that fake is akin to the fake two-handed pass, the one when the defender’s in your chest and the ball’s over your head and you put the ball with a pass fake behind the defender. When the defender turns around, you shoot and, more importantly, make the defender look stupid. That move, that fake pass is now passé, went out with Bird and the wee shorts. But that’s the whole idea: make the defender look really stupid. I kind of feel like the “fake-behind-the-back-pass” falls into the same category. It always elicits ooohs and ahhhs from the crowd like the Globetrotters sticking the ball under the guy’s shirt. I understand it’s occasionally effective, but I’m adamant in my belief that against a fundamentally sound and alert player, it would not or should not be. Maybe that’s what really bugs me: NBA players’ lack of fundamentals exposed. Also, since it’s a boutique move shouldn’t he reserve it for special occasions, not wear it out, save it for when it’s really needed?

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6 Responses to “The Rondo Move That Rankles Me”

  1. JD said

    Rondo doesn’t do it every game; he happened to to do it twice against the Hawks, but nowadays, I’d say he does it on average once every 2 or 3 games.

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  2. mywhackyvisions said

    I love Rondo, I really do, but don’t you think he goes for the steal too quickly when the offense player gets by him? That poke steal after the player has gone by him to me bespeaks of someone who isn’t moving their feet on defense!

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  3. I haven’t counted how often Rondo does that fake pass. Me saying he does it 3-4 times a game probably means it “seems” like he does it that often. I just feel like the move is beneath him. Though, I suppose, if it’s effective, then that’s what counts. I think it gets more crowd reaction than it gets easy scores.

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  4. Josh K said

    1. I preface the following remarks by admitting that I just happened to watch 3 minutes of that game, including that move — and I dutifully ooh’ed and aah’ed.

    2. Now that I’ve watched the move carefully, in slo-mo, it’s very obvious that Rondo traveled — three very clear, deliberate steps after picking up his dribble (one for the fake pass, two for the ensuing layup).

    3. As a pro whose only goal is to win games, isn’t it Rondo’s obligation to keep picking his spots and using this move until either the refs call him for traveling (Adam Pritchard, where are you?) or his defenders stop going for the fake?

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  5. Tim F-W said

    (Adam Pritchard, where are you?)

    Careful, doing that got someone we know T’ed up last month!

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  6. Terry S said

    I am growing weary of watching NBA players get away with travelling.

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