The Celtics didn't want to change Rondo when he arrived, but they didn't want to him either. So at charity foundations he perched behind a folding table where he could avoid the back-slapping, baby-hugging and other standard forms of celebrity fakery. He just played Connect Four, against anybody who dared, usually two grids at a time and sometimes three. "This has been going on for six years," Matt Meyersohn, the Celtics' director of community relations, said on Dec. 22 during an event at the Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club in Dorchester, Mass. "He's played hundreds of Connect Four games, maybe a thousand. And he's never lost."
Later that day Rondo sat behind a table and three girls. Across from him there were more than 100 children he had showered with bikes, Razor scooters and iPod Touches that he bought at Target and distributed from the back of a U-Haul. "I thought he might let us win," said a 12 year-old named Olissa. "But he was so serious." [...]
Olissa was the last challenger. He stared back at Rondo through wire-rimmed glasses. He clenched teeth covered with braces. He initiated what he called a trap, forcing Rondo to the right side of the grid, putting him on the defensive. When Olissa dropped the winning disk, Celtics officials started to shout. Meyerson grabbed the microphone. "This has never happened!" he bellowed. [...]
"I can't believe it," [Rondo] said. "But did you notice I played the guy five more times and won them all? I had to show him, 'You beat me, I'll beat the s*** out of you.'"