Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo broke into a fight towards the end of the Lakers vs. Rockets matchup on Saturday, and both ended up with suspension for their part in the brawl. Their beef isn’t anything new. It’s something that came to a boil after simmering for nearly a decade.
“I am not surprised at all,” said former NBA great Paul Pierce, who played with both Rondo and Paul during his career. “For you people out there who don’t know, Rondo and Chris Paul have never liked each other. This dates back to maybe Rondo’s rookie year or second year. They’ve had heated exchanges over the course of their [careers]. I’m surprised that this is their first fight actually because throughout Rondo’s time in the league, him and Chris Paul have never gotten along.”
This started in 2008
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said the CP3-Rondo beef goes back to 2008 when both were trying out for the Team USA Olympic roster. That was the Redeem Team, the one that featured Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Deron Williams, Jason Kidd... and Paul, all in their primes.
Windhorst appeared on The Hoopshype Podcast and said Paul and Rondo hadn’t liked each other at least since CP3 edged him out for a spot on the roster. That team went on to win Olympic gold and bring honor back to USA basketball in international competition:
“The guys really wanted to be on that team. Chris Paul was established as one of the best point guards in the league… but there was some real competition… He beat Rondo out and Rondo got cut, and Rondo was not happy about it because he had just won a championship.”
And came up again in 2009
The two guards had piled technical fouls that led to a confrontation at the end of a Nov. 1, 2009 matchup between the Celtics and New Orleans Pelicans. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, who wrote at Yahoo! at the time, Rondo told Paul he wished he could be him, that “I’ve got a ring and you’re never gonna win one.”
After that altercation, Rondo requested never to be asked about Paul “now, tomorrow, or any other time.”
Now in 2018 it finally got real
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, who coached both Paul and Rondo, also said he wasn’t surprised they fought.
The fight landed Paul with a two-game suspension, Rondo with a three-game suspension, and Brandon Ingram — who darted over from halfcourt and threw a punch in the vicinity of P.J. Tuckyer — a four-game suspension.
There was spit involved and a mush before things got to punching. But it’s clear this is something that’s been brewing for years.