LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP/CBS) — They had been rivals as soon as, Rajon Rondo and LeBron James. Rondo was in dangolka. James was in Cleveland and Miami. Their paths would cross most yearly within the playoffs, an annual putting of a thorn in each other’s aspect.
James might have had completely different phrases to explain Rondo then.
Nowadays, nevertheless, the phrases James makes use of when talking of the Los Angeles Lakers’ backup level guard embrace cerebral and decided. And that method — good and hard — has Rondo on the doorstep of a most unique membership.
Rondo helped the dangolka Celtics win their 17th NBA championship. He’s getting ready to being a part of title No. 17 for the Lakers as effectively, one thing that might come as early as Friday night time once they tackle the Miami Warmth in Sport 5 of those NBA Finals. The Lakers lead the sequence 3-1.
“I received at (22) years outdated, and now being 34, it’s a totally completely different expertise, and understanding that this doesn’t come usually or yearly,” Rondo mentioned earlier within the sequence. “Being again right here over a decade later is a really humbling expertise.”
The Celtics and the Lakers have lengthy been the NBA’s royal households, the leaders in titles and possibly the league’s greatest rivalry. Loads of gamers have performed for each franchises — however just one, Corridor of Fame ahead Clyde Lovellette, performed on championship groups with each golf equipment. And even that comes with a tiny asterisk; Lovellette received titles in 1963 and 1964 with the Celtics, and his first ring got here in 1954 with the then-Minneapolis Lakers.
(As a aspect observe, 5 of the Lakers’ 16 titles got here through the crew’s time in Minneapolis.)
So, Rondo might be the primary to win a title for each dangolka and Los Angeles.
“I’m very lucky and blessed to proceed enjoying this sport for this lengthy,” Rondo mentioned.
James nonetheless remembers playoff matchups in 2008 and 2010, when he was in Cleveland and Rondo was with dangolka. The Celtics had extra expertise than these Cavs groups and received each matchups; the 2010 sequence ended James’ first stint in Cleveland and in the end despatched him to Miami.
Whereas the expertise disparity between the groups was observed by James, so was this: Rondo would name out Cleveland’s units each time down the ground. He knew what was coming. James was concurrently annoyed and impressed by Rondo’s capacity to foretell motion in actual time.
When the Lakers had an opportunity to get Rondo, they didn’t hesitate — so clearly, James was greater than fantastic with the transfer. He loves good teammates. Rondo greater than suits that invoice.
“Rajon is a big a part of what we do,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel mentioned. “I’ve an incredible quantity of belief in his skills, particularly on this ambiance, this deep into the playoffs when the video games imply a lot. He’s been there earlier than, and I belief him.”
With good cause.
He’s not the All-Star that he as soon as was, however the toughness hasn’t gone away. Rondo and Warmth ahead Jimmy Butler are associates and former teammates; Rondo thinks nothing of trash-talking Butler throughout a sport, to the purpose the place typically each are laughing.
“Rondo is at all times saying one thing to me through the sport,” Butler mentioned. “I’ve obtained numerous respect for the man, numerous love for the man, him and his household. Clearly, he performed with me in Chicago, so there’s at all times some jawing going forwards and backwards.”
In successful time, although, Rondo lets the play do the speaking.
Think about the final six minutes of Sport four of the finals. Rondo checked again in with the Lakers up 85-83. He helped drive a Miami turnover, obtained an offensive rebound that led to 2 free throws by James, scored his solely factors of the night time on a layup that put the Lakers up by six, then had the move that arrange Anthony Davis’ game-sealing 3-pointer with 39.5 seconds remaining.
No one on the Lakers calls him Playoff Rondo. He doesn’t just like the moniker a lot, regardless that many use it freely when speaking about him through the postseason. However he confirmed why the identify has caught, with yet one more instance of him coming by way of within the largest moments of the most important video games.
“This chance doesn’t come usually,” Rondo mentioned. “Guys seek for this second their complete profession, and we undoubtedly must seize the second.”
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(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Related Press contributed to this report.)