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A quick thought on the Rajon Rondo fight, featuring a cameo by brawlin' Doc Rivers

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  November 29, 2012 12:01 PM

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While last night's skirmish with Rajon Rondo might have been Kris Humphries's most terrifying personal encounter since Kris Jenner ordered him into her lair and laid out the terms of the contract, it wasn't really much of a fight.

Rondo may have airmailed a few punches -- based on what some reporters are saying, he'd better hope Stu Jackson doesn't have a better replay than the one we had on TV -- and the Nets' Gerald Wallace was ready to rumble, but Humphries didn't want much to do with it, and alleged hard-foul victim Kevin Garnett was a late arrival to the scene. Fight? I guess. But I'm sticking with skirmish.

You want a fight? Here's a fight: Some guy on the Knicks named Doc Rivers chasing down the Suns' Kevin Johnson, who had just flattened him right before the halftime buzzer with a dirty pick. It escalates quickly, but the whole clip is worth watching -- especially the guest appearance by Doc's current boss, sneering Suns guard Danny Ainge -- but the all-out brawl occurs right around the 4-minute mark. It's a wonder Anthony Mason doesn't kill a guy with a trident right in the middle of it, but he does get in a high-caliber cheap shot.

Kind of forget Doc was a willing member of those New York Knicks goon squads that set the NBA back 20 years, don't we? Man, those teams were despicable.

I know, we're not supposed to make light of fighting in the NBA. The Malice in the Palace was eight years ago but still hovers over the league, and the Kermit Washington/Rudy Tomjanovich near-tragedy is so ingrained that it spawned at least one very dull book a couple of decades after the incident.

A fight might be wildly entertaining from the comfort of the couch, but nothing good comes of it beyond perhaps team unity. There were a couple of kids courtside in the middle of the maelstrom who may not look at their heroes the same way. That's a bummer.

But count me out of turning this into another referendum on Rondo's maturity. I'll leave the sanctimonious scolding and finger-wagging to others. While you hope he grows, seven years into his career, we also have a pretty good idea who he is at this point, and either you're with him or against him. Usually, it's complicated with him, because he's a complicated dude -- brilliant, enigmatic, selfless, reckless. There are more adjectives to describe him than he has assists, and he's as polarizing an athlete as there is in Boston.

It's not complicated this time, though.

Both sides are correct -- he was being a good teammate for having Garnett's back and he was being an irresponsible one for taking it beyond shoving Humphries and perhaps calling him a few colorful words. I mean, if there's one guy in the league who should be easy to chop down verbally, if it's not him, then he's the runner-up to Lamar Odom.

It stinks that a team that is struggling to find an identity will be stuck in neutral through a couple of games while Rondo serves his inevitable suspension, but the timing could be worse. The hope is that he learns to control the heat-of-the-moment impulses and his temper and it doesn't happen again in a situation or at a point of the season where it really matters.

Maybe he takes a lesson out of this. Sure, you hope he does. But there were bigger lessons learned Wednesday night that had nothing to do with the fight. We learned that the Celtics-Nets is a legit rivalry now. And we learned that when you're getting taken apart by Andray Blatche, you have no right to call yourself anything more than a work in progress.

The Celtics have each others' backs. That's always good, even if it comes with fallout. Now let's see them start fighting their way forward in the standings once their best player returns from his self-inflicted hiatus.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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