More than 12 years after winning an NBA title as a member of the Boston Celtics in 2008, guard Rajon Rondo added a second championship to his resume Sunday night – this one with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rondo became the second player to win a championship with both the Celtics and Lakers, joining Clyde Lovellette. He called this one the more difficult to achieve because of the unusual circumstances and the long hiatus between his first and second titles.
“It’s been a long time for me,” Rondo said. “To be able to come back and redeem myself and play a big part in this championship is definitely a hell of a feeling, and something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Rondo lived up to the moniker “Playoff Rondo,” recording a record (since at least 1971) 105 assists off the bench throughout the playoffs – even after missing the team’s entire first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
In Game 6 on Sunday, which the Lakers won, 106-93, Rondo racked up 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, hitting three of four 3-pointers and adding four assists and a steal. Even when the Lakers built a massive lead, Rondo implored his teammates to keep playing with intensity.
“He gets us in the right spots and made sure we were in the mindset of just keep attacking, finish the game and don’t let up,” teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “He enforced that tonight, and we all just bought into it.”
Rondo said this championship is different in many ways, largely because his son, Rajon Jr., was there to celebrate with him this time. As Rondo spoke with Kenny Mayne on SportsCenter after the victory, Rajon Jr. frolicked in confetti in the background.
“One of the kids back there is my son, so having him with me in this moment is definitely a great feeling and an honor to be able to do it in front of him,” Rondo said to Mayne.
Rondo said his early success with the Celtics made him believe that was what the NBA was like, and he expected that trend to continue. After many years playing on teams that weren’t in the championship hunt, he feels incredibly grateful to have capitalized on this opportunity.
He’s also thrilled to “redeem himself” after the Celtics lost to the Lakers in the 2010 Finals and is proud to finally hoist the trophy again after so many years.
“I’ve been trying to get back for so long,” Rondo told Mayne.
Trevor Hass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.