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Former Celtics champ Rajon Rondo announces retirement from NBA after 16 seasons

BOSTON -- Following a 16-year career in the NBA that saw him win a pair of titles and play for nine different teams, former Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has announced his retirement.

Rondo, who last played in the NBA as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2021-22 season, made the announcement during an appearance on the "All the Smoke" podcast on Tuesday. He left no wiggle room when host Matt Barnes asked if we had seen the last of Rondo on the hardwood. 

"Absolutely," said Rondo, who is now 38. "Yeah, I'm done. I can't. I'd rather spend time with my kids."

Rondo was one of the most entertaining passers in the game during his time, and currently ranks 15th all time in the NBA with 7,584 dimes to his name. He led the NBA in assists in 2015-16 while with the Sacramento Kings, and led the league in assists per game three times, including twice during his nine-year run with the Celtics.

But Rondo did far more than just quarterback an offense, as he also dazzled on defense. A two-time member of both the NBA's All-Defensive First Team and All-Defensive Second Team, Rondo had a knack for racking up steals and turning them into points. "Grand Theft Rondo" led the NBA in steals just once in 2009-10 with Boston, but he averaged nearly two swipes per game during his time in Green and 1.6 thefts per contest for his career.

Rondo got his start with the Celtics after Danny Ainge traded for his rights on draft night in 2006. He didn't play much during his rookie season, but Rondo got a great opportunity in Year 2 after the Celtics swung a blockbuster trade to land Kevin Garnett. Ainge refused to put Rondo in that trade with the Timberwolves, and the point guard played a big role on that title-winning team the next season.

While he was in the shadow of the Big Three of Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rondo's defense and ability to run the offense were huge for the Celtics in their run to an NBA championship. Rondo's game only grew the years after that title, and for large stretches, he was the team's best player.

He'll forever be remembered for winning a banner in Boston, but his incredible performance in Round 1 of the 2008-09 NBA playoffs will never be forgotten. Rondo went toe-to-toe with Chicago's Derrick Rose all series, and got the better of the Rookie of the Year (and future NBA MVP) over Boston's 7-game series win. Rondo averaged 19.4 points, 11.6 assists, and 9.3 rebounds over those seven games, including a triple-double in Game 2 and a 19-assist effort in Game 6.

Rondo made all four of his All-Star teams while with the Celtics, earning nods in four straight seasons from 2009-13. He averaged 12.4 points, 10.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per game over that span. There was a time when it looked like he would be the face of the franchise after the Garnett-Pierce-Allen run was over, and Rondo was even named team captain for the 2014 season, but he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks that December.

Rondo ended up playing just that half season in Dallas, and then bounced around with the Kings, the Bulls, the Lakers (twice), the Hawks, the Clippers, and the Cavaliers. He won a second title with the Lakers in 2019-20, becoming just the second player to win a ring with both sides of the NBA's famous rivalry.

But Rondo will forever be known for his nine-year run with the Celtics, when he dazzled fans with flashy behind-the-back passes, stifling defense, and a strong will to do whatever it took to win. 

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