The human elbow is the region surrounding the elbow-joint the ginglymus or hinge joint in the middle of the arm. Three bones form the elbow joint: the humerus of the upper arm, and the paired radius and ulna of the forearm.
For the Boston Celtics the human elbow mean’s everything right now. It’s a symbol of guts and courage and it’s attached to the body of Rajon Rondo… all 6′ 1″ 171 lbs. of him.
What happened on Saturday night was incredible. For anyone that didn’t watch the game, the Celtics opened up a can of whoop ass on the Heat. At a point in the third quarter things started to get chippy and Rondo took the brunt of it. On what looked like innocent pushing and shoving between Dwyane Wade and Rondo morphed into the WWF with Wade playing the part of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Rondo playing the part of unsuspecting patsy. As Wade dragged him to the floor in a tangled mess, Rondo reached out with his left arm to brace his fall. In an instant the worst possible thing happened.
Rondo came down with all his weight on his arm and the elbow gave way, bending in a direction that not only didn’t look natural, but also made you instantly say, he’s done. It was that bad. Rondo writhed in pain on the floor, grabbing the elbow as the Celtics and the training staff looked on. He eventually was helped up and made his way to the locker room, arm supported by the training staff, looking as if he had just taken sniper fire from the upper deck.
There was a chance the Celtics could hold on. They had built up a big enough lead that it might have been possible to ward off the inevitable late Miami run. Any chance of winning the series looked to be all but over though. The Celtics are touted for their big three, but for 3 seasons now the cold hard truth is that Rondo is what makes everything click. He makes them work. Without him there’s no way the Celtics can win four out of seven games in this series.
As the Celtics fought off the Heat something remarkable happened. Out from the tunnel emerged the most unlikely of people… Rajon Rondo, dislocated elbow and all. The place erupted as Rondo made his way to the end of the bench in the waning seconds of the third quarter. There was no way he was possibly going to go back in the game.
Then at the start of the fourth quarter, Rondo walked his way out onto the court and the rest will go down in playoff lore. “The Elbow Game” or “Rondo Game,” whichever you prefer to call it, was one of the gutsiest things I have ever seen. Rondo played the remainder of the game with one arm dangling from his side. His left arm was just there, picking and choosing when to use it, grimacing in pain with each and every play.
Meanwhile, the Heat shriveled up and died under the pressure of game 3, just like we all thought they might. I had predicted earlier on Saturday that 2/3 of the Three Moheatos would cave. I said it would be Bosh and James. I was right. They were invisible most of the game, especially Bosh, who put up a ridiculously paltry 6 points and 5 rebounds. Not to mention one awfully embarrassing loose ball that a one armed Rondo managed to out hustle and out wrestle him for, and then take down the floor for an uncontested dunk. If the Celtics go on to win this series, that is sure to be the signature highlight play for years to come.
If Miami has any hope of turning things around and going back home up 3-1 rather than backing themselves into a 2-2 dog fight both James and Bosh will have to play better. But as is the case, the crowd will be a factor and I expect them to be even more vicious tonight than they were on Saturday. History has shown us that neither LeBron nor Bosh handles himself particularly well in this Boston environment. It may be up to Wade to save the day.
But the story remains Rondo. Surrounded by a group of for sure hall of famers and players who have experienced more in their collective basketball lives than he may ever experience on his own, Rondo has become their leader. So goes Rondo, so goes the Celtics. I know it, you know it, and the Heat and Celtics know it. When they take the court tonight and #9 takes the court I expect the Garden to erupt. It won’t matter if Rondo can use his left arm or if it’s in a sling. He’s going to put the Celtics on his back and lead them. That’s what he does.
He’ll play his usual tough defense because as he said, he only needs two legs to do that. He’ll get the team out on the break setting up easy shots. He’ll make life a living hell for the Heat just like he always has. When the dust settles I expect him to be standing over the collective body of the Heat with his foot on their throat. That’s what Rondo does and his play will help ignite the emotion and determination of the Celtics. As we’ve come to see over the years, the heart of the Celtics is worn on their sleeve. And tonight that sleeve will cover the elbow of their most important piece…
The Elbow of Rajon Rondo.