Both players were ejected in the first quarter of the Pelicans’ 139-117 win over the Lakers on Wednesday night after the two were tangled up and exchanged words. Rondo hounded Thomas from the moment he came off the bench into the game—he picked him up in the full court and played very physical defense. The two have a bit of a history that might explain why things got so heated, so quickly—Rondo hounded Thomas.
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Back in January, Rondo was asked about the Celtics’ plan to honor Isaiah Thomas with a tribute video when the Cavs, who Thomas played for at the time, visited Boston on Feb. 11, the same night of Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony. Rondo, who spent eight and a half seasons in Boston and won the 2008 title with the Celtics, seemed bothered that Thomas, who only spent two years with the team, would get a video.
Rondo and IT had been getting tangled up almost from the tip, and they didn’t even make it through the first quarter before getting tossed. After the game, Thomas confirmed that their altercation was rooted in the controversial Celtics’ video tribute.
The topic of video tributes has become a divisive issue around the NBA this season, with detractors arguing that there are far too many of them for ancillary players who only had brief tenures with a given franchise. Others, however, believe in a more liberal approach and that teams should be free to use their discretion as to who they choose to honor.
The silly part about this one is that Thomas ultimately declined the Celtics’ offer for a video tribute so that it wouldn’t detract from Pierce’s jersey ceremony, which was further rendered moot by the fact that Thomas was traded away from the Cavs before that even happened.