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Playoff “Quarterbacks”: Rajon Rondo or Tom Brady?

Posted by Neil Paine on May 24, 2010

As an announcer, Mark Jackson sure loves to repeat himself. Whether it's "Mama there goes that man," "Hand down, man down," or my personal favorite, "Grown man move" (clip unavailable), Jackson's canned go-to phrases are a staple of any ESPN broadcast -- especially when cutting to a commercial break, serving to punctuate an important replay with, well, words that have lost all meaning.

Recently, though, Jackson's been repeating another comment he began to make during Rajon Rondo's triple-double vs. Cleveland two weeks ago. Here's a variation from Saturday night:

The general concept is, "Move over Tom Brady, Rajon Rondo is now the best quarterback in (New England)." I don't know if that forced comparison even makes sense beyond the most superficial level, but I did think it would be interesting to look at the W-L record of point guards in NBA playoff series vs. NFL players' playoff records as the primary QB, and see how they compare.

If the Boston Celtics close out their series against Orlando (and with a 3-0 lead, it would take a Bruins-esque -- or is that Yankees-esque? -- collapse to prevent that from happening), Rajon Rondo would move to 8-1 all-time as a primary PG in playoff series. Tom Brady famously started his career 10-0 (with 3 championships) before finally losing to the Broncos in the 2005 playoffs, so Rondo is not quite in Brady territory yet as a winning playoff "quarterback", but here's how he compares to other hot starts by NFL QBs in their playoff careers:

That's pretty heady company for Rondo, as far as winning early in one's career goes. But how does he stack up to other NBA point guards?

Well, like Rondo, Magic Johnson started his career 8-1 as a primary PG... then moved to 15-2... then 25-3... and was a staggering 32-5 (!!!) going into the 1991 Finals before ending his career at 32-6. Here are some other notable fast starts by PGs:

Rondo is definitely in this group, but even if the Celtics win another championship, he'd be "just" 9-1. He'd have to go 6-1 over the next few years (that means another championship) to match Magic's pace, which is to say nothing of Martin or Harper. 8-1 is very, very impressive (assuming the C's don't blow it vs. Orlando), but it's not as good as Tom Brady's record was through the same # of playoff games, and it's far from being the most impressive career start among NBA point guards all-time.

10 Responses to “Playoff “Quarterbacks”: Rajon Rondo or Tom Brady?”

  1. Jason J Says:

    Ron Harper and John Paxson were point guards the same way that Byron Scott was a point guard. They were the smallest guards in the starting lineup and thus matched up against the other team's point guards except when they didn't (like against the Lakers). Michael Jordan played point guard for Chicago in 1989, and Pippen did every year after that. And that is a scientific fact as proved by Sir Isaac Newton in the pages of Cracked magazine. Look it up.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Of course many of these Triangle guys were point guards in name only, but sometimes it's tough to make that distinction without being arbitrary. Here I defined a team's "primary PG" as the leading playoff assist man on the team whose primary or secondary career position was PG. Technically, they were all point guards, and that's all we're really going for here anyway.

  3. P Middy Says:

    Jackson also said that the Magic had "no pressure on them" coming into game three. Probably the dumbest thing said by a non-Walton announcer in the history of the Playoffs. I mean, when Dick Stockton says dumb stuff it's because he's too old to tell the players apart and can't be bothered to see what the call the ref made actually was.

    Then again, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas announced during the Playoffs. Probably a safe bet they beat out Jackson at some point.

  4. Ricardo Says:

    I still don't know what "hand down, man down" means.

  5. Ricardo Says:

    Oh, and Magic had an excellent bad call at the start of his broadcasting career: when Clyde Drexler made a move to get through a double team, NBC showed a replay in which Magic said, "And here's Clyde with the (beat) splits 'em." Followed by awkward silence.

  6. P Middy Says:

    "Michael Jordan is like an old man in the park, using his stempf against the younger players."
    --Isiah Thomas

  7. Jason J Says:

    I think part of the reason that Isiah was such a truly horrible announcer was that he hated Jordan so much, but he announced in the 1998 season, which everyone treated as a farewell tour to MJ where no one was allowed to do anything but gush over how Mike was the greatest thing since sliced Gatorade. It must have been constantly galling. "Michael's going to use his brains and his strempf, to back his man down to where HE wants to be."

  8. KevinG Says:

    That cross-over he laid on Williams should be illegal.

  9. hk Says:

    Typical Pats fan. Neil, "you're better than that".


  10. Mac Toney Says:

    I enjoyed this post / article. Good job!!! Rondo IS quickly becoming an elite guard though. Still would give Brady the Boston edge. 3 Super Bowls is still amazing!