An electrifying scorer with a cool demeanor, Williams had been a fan-favorite since arriving in L.A. from Houston in 2017. He was twice named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year as a Clipper (plus one time before that) and had, the night prior to the trade, scored his 15,000th career point in a win over the Spurs.
Rondo, on the other hand, is a proven playoff asset, renowned for his basketball IQ. And though his time with Atlanta this season has been uneventful (to say the least) there are high hopes that his smarts and leadership can help bring a championship to the long-suffering Clippers, as he did for the Celtics in 2008 and the Lakers in 2020.
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For second-year Clippers guard Terance Mann, however, the move was almost cosmically bittersweet. Williams is a friend and a mentor and has played a big role in helping the 6-foot-5 Mann become one of the league’s top up-and-comers.
But Rondo…Rondo is quite literally Mann’s good luck charm.
‘I’m Going to the NBA Definitely’
Talking to the press Thursday evening, on the heels of a back-to-back victory over San Antonio and only a few hours after the Rondo acquisition was announced, Mann was asked how he felt about the point guard’s impending arrival.
“It’s a pretty cool thing,” answered Mann. “I grew up in Massachusetts, and Rondo was there for most of my middle school days and high school days. So just having him on the same team as me is pretty cool.”
But that wasn’t the coolest part. Not by a longshot.
“I still got his rookie card in my wallet,” revealed Mann. “I’ve had it since 7th grade, I think.”
Come again? Turns out, back in middle school, Mann had been given Rondo’s 2006-07 rookie Topps card on the very same day he learned he’d made his traveling team’s A-squad. Mann took it as a sign and has toted around the card ever since.
“I was like ‘Oh man, it’s gotta be because of this card,’ ” explained Mann, pulling out the tattered card from his wallet to the great delight of the room. “So as I kept getting better and better at basketball I’m like ’It’s because of this card — I’m going to the NBA definitely!’ I’ve just had it in my wallet ever since. It’s like a good luck charm.”
Rondo Brings Passing (and Hopefully a Pen)
Aside from the fun coincidence of getting to play next to his good luck charm, Mann is excited to play with Rondo from a basketball perspective, too.
“He’s a smart guy, smart player, he brings a lot to the table for our team [as] a great point guard,” said Mann, before adding matter-of-factly: “It’s Rondo. Right there.”
Drafted out of Kentucky in 2006, Rondo played eight and a half seasons for the Celtics, leading the league in assists in 2012 and 2013 before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks in December of 2014. Mann, who was born in Brooklyn but grew up in Lowell, Massachusetts, has, of course, always been a fan.
“The way he passed the ball,” said Mann when asked what impressed him about Rondo. “Everybody talked about Rondo in the Northeast, he was a big figure. Everybody loves the Celtics out there. Basically, just the way he passed the ball, the way he ran the team. He was just a big icon in Boston.”
And now that Rondo is out in L.A., Mann has at least one objective when it comes to Rondo and his good luck card.
“Got to get him to autograph it,” said Mann.