Rajon Rondo was introduced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ backcourt on Tuesday. Interestingly, the man he’ll be backing up at point guard, Russell Westbrook, has not exactly been a best buddy of Rondo over the past year.
We detailed the recent beef between the multiple-time All-Stars on Monday, so you can head to that article for all the tea. To briefly recap, Rondo’s brother William (who was in charge of the barber situation in the bubble) was booted from Game 5 of the 2020 Western Conference semifinals between the Lakers and Houston Rockets for heckling Westbrook, calling him “trash.” Westbrook was not happy about the altercation, while Rondo downplayed the entire thing.
Then, this past January, Rondo and Westbrook sparred during a Washington Wizards–Atlanta Hawks game, culminating in Westbrook being ejected for shoving Rondo too hard on a rebound. Rondo applauded as Westbrook was sent off. In his postgame remarks, Westbrook blamed himself for, in his words, stooping to Rondo’s level.
However, now that both players are teammates for a star-studded championship contender, it seems all the FLOW is under the bridge. In fact, any lingering beef seems to have been fully squashed, at least according to Rondo’s remarks at his introductory press conference with the Lakers on Tuesday.
“Carmelo,” Rondo said, when asked who he’s excited to compete alongside in his second stint in Los Angeles. “Obviously, Russ, (Trevor Ariz). I look forward to talking to Trev, learning his mind, his focus … We’ve had a lot of great battles with a lot of these guys that’s now teammates. I’m looking forward to putting everything in the past and putting it together for the greater good of the team and winning a championship here.”
Video: Intro Press Conference: Rajon Rondo (8/31/21)
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Westbrook and Rondo are two of the game’s most intense competitors, so it’s no surprise that they went at it on a few occasions. The Lakers are hoping the two vets will productively channel that fire in 2021-22.
Rondo said the competitive nature of the Lakers’ roster, in fact, is one of the reasons why he’s amped to join this group.
“This is a special team. It’s a hell of a team as far as competitors,” he said. “I think it’s a great roster. I think Rob (Pelinka) did a hell of a job, again. … I think we have a great mix of guys, a great group of guys that haven’t won that have a chip on their shoulder, have so much to prove, and a lot of balance of guys that have won.”
Thus far, the theme for the 2021-22 Lakers — comprised of superstars and accomplished vets on minimum deals — has been two-fold: sacrifice and banner-raising.
“I think I’m one of the most competitive guys in the league and I love to win,” Rondo added. “Being put in a situation now where we have an opportunity to win a championship — there’s only a handful of teams that can say it at the start of training camp, and we’re one of them this year.”