The same fiery intensity that makes Russell Westbrook one of the best players of his generation also serves as a double-edged sword. That passion is a blessing and a curse as Rajon Rondo has found out on multiple instances in the last year. Inside the bubble, it was Rondo and his brother William that memorably got into a battle of words as the Lakers were putting the finishing touches on a series victory against Houston.
That bad blood carried over into last season as Westbrook and Rondo were involved in a scuffle in early January in their first meeting since the bubble, resulting in Westbrook being ejected.
Any worries about that bad blood carrying over between the two stubborn veterans were squashed by Rajon Rondo as he was introduced as a Laker. During that press conference, Rondo was asked what Westbrook would bring to the fold this season in Los Angeles.
“More excitement.,” Rondo said. “More energy in practice. I’m looking forward to a lot more competitive competitions with him and other guys on the team. It’s a hell of a team as far as having a lot of competitors, and I’m looking forward to getting better each day in practice with those guys.”
Much like Kobe Bryant often did with opponents, the ones who challenged him personally were the ones who often turned into his teammates, a la Matt Barnes. Now that they’ve teamed together, the same drive that had them going at one another will likely unite them this season.
Westbrook was not the only Laker that Rondo was excited to work with this season as he also expressed excitement to play alongside fellow veterans Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza...even if he forgot which Lakers beat him in the 2010 NBA Finals.
“Carmelo,” Rondo said. “Obviously Russ. And I look forward to talking to Trev and learning his mind and his focus. And did Trev beat me? I think Trev beat me a couple years back in the 2010 Finals. So we’ve had a lot of great battles with a lot of these guys that are now my teammates, and I’m looking forward to putting everything in the past and putting it together for the greater good of the team and winning a championship here.”
Virtually everything Rondo said during Tuesday’s presser served to ease minds about his return for next season from the role he knows he’ll be playing to these comments about Westbrook. In all, the Lakers appear to have landed a key voice and locker room piece as they look to battle for a title once again.