Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo on Friday were matched up for the first time since Westbrook yelled at Rondo’s brother during a playoff game last year. Things got testy between them again.
The veteran guards, now playing for teams other than the ones they represented in the Orlando bubble, first had words in the first half of Wizards-Hawks in Washington and were assessed technical fouls.
The animosity peaked in the fourth quarter when a frustrated Westbrook shoved Rondo on a rebound attempt. That move earned Westbrook a second technical and an early exit from a game the Wizards eventually lost.
“I mean, honestly it’s more on me. I can’t allow myself just to stoop down to anybody’s level,” Westbrook told reporters after the game, per NBC Sports Washington. “That’s not my character or who I am. I’ve got to be better regardless of trash talk and what things are said.”
Rondo was ejected for a second technical foul with five minutes remaining while he was on the bench. The reason was unclear.
The obvious move here is to link at least the first incident to what happened last September in the Western Conference semifinals. As Rondo’s Lakers were closing out Westbrook’s Rockets in Game 5 of the series, Westbrook engaged with Rondo’s brother William after a LeBron James free throw. William Rondo was seated courtside and chirping at Westbrook, as was Rajon Rondo.
“People at the game, you’re supposed to shut your mouth and watch the game,” Westbrook told reporters postgame. “That’s the rules, especially when you have families and people here. … Because [Rajon] Rondo was talking s—, he decided he wanted to hop in, too. It’s OK. It’s all good. I get it. He wanted to take up for his brother. I don’t know what, but that’s it.”
The Washington Post reported that arena security escorted William Rondo out of the arena.
Rajon Rondo came to his brother’s defense in his comments after Game 5.
“He didn’t do anything crazy,” Rondo said. “He called the man ‘trash.’ Fans do what fans do. He’s my brother first. He didn’t do anything disrespectful.”
This article has been updated with Westbrook’s comments and Rondo’s ejection. Material from Jordan Greer and Stats Perform News were used in this report.