In a recent interview, Rajon Rondo said that playing for the Lakers and “winning it for Kobe, the year Kobe passed was unreal as some of you can imagine”. Earlier in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down everyday life in the United States, the basketball world was already reeling from the tragic death of Kobe Bryant.
While on the podcast All The Smoke, the 4-time All-Star went on to explain the significance of bringing home a championship during an “emotional rollercoaster of a year” for a fanbase grieving one of their greats,
“Obviously, playing against him in a couple of finals, [and to do it] in the same uniform... So, it was a tough one. We understood the mindset, the goal we had, what we were trying to attain, and who are we doing it for. So, to be able to see that in full circle, accomplish a goal, it was a thrill moment. It is definitely something we are going to be grateful for, I’m sure for the rest of our lives. It was a dope moment… Despite everything else”
“Full circle” is a great way to put it, the two played each other in two NBA finals in 2008 and 2010, Rondo as a Boston Celtic and Kobe of course as a Los Angeles Laker. The two guards squared off in both series, honoring the historical rivalry with excellent play.
However, unlike Kobe, Rondo has bounced around the league quite a bit, eventually landing in LA as a Laker in 2018. Matt Barnes, who played with Kobe for two seasons, added to Rondo’s accomplishment saying the championship should be a “gold star” given the circumstances of the year, particularly for the Lakers.
In the 2020 NBA playoff bubble in Orlando, Rondo found postseason success but not without complications along the way. As Barnes pointed out, Rondo was out for 6-weeks with a broken thumb, missing the Lakers’ first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers but went on to play key minutes off the bench once he returned.
Rondo Averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 Rebounds, 6.6 assists, and 1.4 steals in the 2020 playoffs while playing almost half the minutes he did as a Celtic.