Former Boston Celtics star Isaiah Thomas is no longer with the team—in fact, he’s now with their archrival, the Los Angeles Lakers—but that hasn’t stopped a beef from developing with another former Celtics point guard, Rajon Rondo.
Yes, IT, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers this offseason and recently sent off to the Lakers, and Rondo, who is currently playing for the New Orleans Pelicans, don’t exactly see eye-to-eye. Basically, Rondo doesn’t like that the Celtics were considering a tribute video for Thomas. IT told the Celtics not to do it, yet Rondo has never gotten over it.
The hot heads spilled over in the Lakers and Pels matchup, and both IT and Rondo earned themselves early showers. Thomas, of course, blames Rondo.
“Whatever reason, he’s an upset guy about me,” said Thomas after the game. “I don’t know what it is, but it’s fine. He kept bringing the tribute up, when I was one that shut the tribute down. I’m far past that…For me to be ejected was uncalled for.”
Thomas went on to speculate on some of the reasons that Rondo might not like him (it can’t just be the video, can it?). Maybe it was because the Celtics beat Rondo’s Chicago Bulls in the playoffs last year. Or because Rondo doesn’t like the idea of not being the best point guard the Celtics have had in recent years. After all, the 2008 Boston Celtics championship is a big part of Rondo’s legacy.
Either way, Thomas was mad.
“I mean, my team beat his team in the playoffs last year,” continued Thomas. “Maybe that is what’s wrong. I don’t know. There’s nothing. Nothing should’ve made that escalate like it did. He already had his agenda written down right when I checked into the game. It was obvious. He picked me up full court, trying to be physical. I don’t know what was going on with him. I don’t know why I got thrown out. I don’t want to comment too much on it…It was obvious what was going on. He was being too aggressive for whatever reason, and he also hit me in the face three times. At some point, as a human, if no one is going to protect me, I got to protect myself, and that is when I spoke up and got upset. I hope the NBA figures something out with that because it was wrong for me to be ejected.”
Rondo, on the other hand, didn’t say much after the altercation. Most of his talking came well before the fight when Rondo originally heard about the tribute video that the Celtics were planning on playing for Thomas’s return to Boston.
“What has he done?” said Rondo. When a reporter answered that Thomas led the Celtics to the best record in the East and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, Rondo touted back, saying, “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here? This is the Boston Celtics. This isn’t the Phoenix Suns. No disrespect to any other organization, but you don’t hang conference titles. Do we hang going to the conference finals? What do we hang here?”
Championships is the answer Rondo was looking for, I imagine. The Celtics, of course, have quite the storied history and franchise, including their most recent NBA Championship which came in 2008 when Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rondo were still in green. Since the core guys left, the Celtics haven’t made it back to the NBA Finals; however, Thomas did bring them close before getting chopped down by LeBron James and the Cavs in the East Finals.
Nonetheless, Thomas had a great run with the Celtics. He was the team leader and certainly has the statistics to warrant a tribute video, especially given that tribute videos are not reserved for championships (even though the banners in Boston might be).
“I think a lot of people were [surprised],” said IT. “I think the world made it bigger than what it was. Everybody who’s been on a team for a while has gotten a video tribute. Patrick Beverley got one in Houston. Chris Paul got one with the Clippers. It’s like, they didn’t win no championship, but it’s just the respect thing. He said what he said, I laughed it off. It was what it was. I’m the one that stopped the video tribute from happening because I wanted Paul Pierce to have his full night. I didn’t want to take nothing from him. I know [Rondo] played on Paul Pierce’s team. He’s gonna always have Paul Pierce’s back, which is fine. I didn’t lose sleep over it. It was obvious [that it] continued to be brought up with what happened tonight.”
At least the Pelicans and Lakers games will be more exciting now.