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Friday, December 3, 2021

Rajon Rondo has seen the Lakers-Celtics rivalry come from both sides

Editor’s note: This is the Friday November 19 edition of the Purple and Bold Lakers newsletter from journalist Kyle Goon. To receive the newsletter delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

The best memory of Rajon Rondo at TD Garden is June 17, 2008. Kevin Garnett shouted how anything was possible, and the franchise won its 17th NBA championship, spraying green and white confetti from the ceiling. But as Trevor Ariza left and the Lakers, already shattered to lose the finals, faced a very different reception: a rowdy crowd of Celtics fans literally thrashed him, then proceeded to his bus— Back when they came out of the field.

“Yeah, that was a good ole Bostonian ass-whooping,” Rondo said on Friday morning, thinking back on his nine seasons as a Celtic wearing the Lakers logo on his chest.

By comparison, these are fallow years for the cross-coastal rivalry that has so defined and often marginalized NBA history. The Lakers-Celtics always have an added edge to it, but it doesn’t feel like it when both teams are the undisputed leaders in their respective conferences. In fact, this latest installment shows both the Lakers (8-8) and the Celtics (7-8) need some wins to get back on track.

Rondo said the most intense part of the rivalry has been “buried” because the two franchises have not met in the playoffs since 2010. Growing up in Louisville, Ky., he said he didn’t understand how much power a rivalry had until he was in the thick of it.

“I understood the magnitude of it after reaching the finals,” he said. “But before that, in my first year, I didn’t understand it. Once we got to the finals, you understood the hate, the history. My family experienced it the most, my first few years of going to L.A. Had been. ”

Boston is likely the market that Rondo will be associated with forever, even if it has won titles in both cities. But Rondo admits he has one of his top five memories in the Garden as a Laker: In 2019, he hit a game-winning shot against the Celtics, and none other than Kevin Garnett took to the court to hug him. The storm did not.

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His then 7-year-old son Pierre, sitting in the crowd, used to make that moment special.

“I can’t keep it high enough, you know, but there it is,” he said. “Especially the memories of my son. He was actually on the court with me when I hit him, so it’s huge.

Rondo is the last player to stand from that 2008 title team. In the Hall of Fame are Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce. Kendrick Perkins has made a big name for himself as an analyst. Sam Cassell has been a coach for years.

Funny Rondo: “This is life. I am in my last leg here in the league. I think I got six more years, but other than that…”

Still, it looked like the 35-year-old had hopes of seeing that rivalry again. At the start of the season, it is still difficult to forecast for both the teams that have had a less than ideal start. But already, Rondo said he feels lucky to have already experienced so much from both sides of the split.

He said, ‘It has been a wonderful journey in my career. “Nine years to start in Boston, it’s a place that raised me and possibly ended my career with a rival, but for me, like it’s been a great journey, a great story and fans in both places. have been amazing.”

— Kyle Guno

Editor’s Note: Thanks for reading the Purple and Bold Lakers newsletter from reporter Kyle Gone. To receive the newsletter delivered to your inbox, sign up here.

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