Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo were ejected for getting into it during Wednesday night’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans, and it sounds like the groundwork for the scrum was laid last month.
If you remember, Rondo was outspoken in saying he does not believe Thomas should get a tribute video from the Celtics when he returns to Boston as a visiting player. Thomas said Rondo brought that up again on Wednesday.
“Yeah, he brought it up,” Thomas said, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. “For whatever reason he’s an upset guy about me. I don’t know what it is. He kept bringing the tribute up when I was the one that shut the tribute down.”
When Thomas was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Celtics originally planned to honor him with a tribute video last Saturday, which was the same day Paul Pierce’s No. 34 jersey was retired by the team. Several weeks ago, Rondo questioned why the Celtics would honor Thomas at all — let alone on the same day as Pierce’s jersey retirement.
Thomas said it felt like Rondo was trying to get under his skin from the jump during Wednesday’s game.
“It felt like they were waiting for me to get upset,” he said. “I got hit in my face three times, and the third time I got hit in my face I reacted and tried to tell the refs, ‘Are you gonna control this?’ Hopefully, like I said, the NBA sees it, looks at it, figures it out, but I definitely need to get those technical fouls rescinded because I didn’t do anything.”
While Rondo was playing aggressive defense on Thomas, he didn’t appear to do anything over the top. It seems like the bad blood between the two was the biggest contributing factor.