Kobe Bryant was looking for a good breakfast spot in Boston, so he figured he’d ask a rival for a recommendation.
Rajon Rondo had the perfect spot: The Paramount in Beacon Hill.
“I’ve been going to the Paramount for years,” Rondo said.
The two were spotted catching an early bite Thursday, mostly reminiscing over their NBA Finals run-ins in 2008 and 2010.
“We just talked about the game,” Bryant said. “We talked about the league, and we talked about good old memories of playing in the series against each other.
“It was just different strategies of what they tried to do against us, what we tried to do against them. It was a basketball geek conversation.”
The conversation spanned from their respective championship eras to their current roles on rebuilding teams. They traded notes and advice, but free-agent-to-be Rondo said it was mostly one-sided.
“He did a lot of talking,” Rondo said.
But with Rondo taking on a leadership role in the Celtics post-Big Three Era, he soaked up what Bryant had to say.
“Pretty much we talked about the 2008-2009 seasons, as far as him being a leader,” Rondo said. “[He’s playing with] a lot of young guys this year, same thing as far as me doing the same thing. The struggles he’s going through as far as leading his team, just how to handle it.”
For all the rumors that were born out of the breakfast summit, Bryant swore all they talked about was basketball.
“We both love the game so much that we wind up talking about the game more times than not,” Bryant said.
Bryant’s long been a fan of Rondo’s, actually paying him a compliment with a profane insult a year ago, which Rondo gladly accepted.
“I think initially when he called me an [expletive], I thought the same thing of him,” Rondo said. “So it was two [expletives] having breakfast.”
Rondo’s style of play — particular the way he hits the gas for a point guard — struck Bryant more than anything else.
“I just never really understood how a guy that size could get 17, 20 rebounds,” Bryant said. “I still don’t really understand that. It’s unbelievable.”
The list of their similarities is long — from their edginess on their court to their moodiness off it, to their smartest-guy-in-the-room demeanor everywhere else, which Bryant acknowledged a year ago.
Friday morning, Bryant heaped more praise.
“Extremely intelligent,” Bryant said of Rondo. “Very, very smart. He prepares very well, and he understands the deeper subtleties of the game.”
As curious as the meeting might have seemed, Bryant said he wasn’t doing any recruiting. The 36-year-old All-Star is in the first year of a two-year, $48 million contract and the Lakers have designs of building a team that would convince him to play after the contract expires.
“I haven’t thought about having any future teammates before,” Bryant said.
Still, Bryant acknowledged, there are things he and Rondo see eye-to-eye on in terms of basketball, and the breakfast chat only solidified it.
“We get along extremely well,” Bryant said. “We see the game in a similar fashion in terms of our aggressiveness and mind-set. It was good to get together with him.”
Smart easing in
Marcus Smart played four first-half minutes against the Pistons on Wednesday in his return from a sprained ankle, and Celtics coach Brad Stevens could tell the rookie still had some cobwebs.
“I thought he was very rusty on Wednesday and that’s why we didn’t go with him in the second half,” Stevens said.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge gave Stevens a call the next morning. He threw out the idea of sending Smart to Maine of the Development League.
“I hadn’t even thought about having him go up to Maine, hadn’t even crossed my mind, and right when he said it, it was obvious,” Stevens said.
Smart played 28 minutes for the Red Claws Thursday night, scoring 6 on 1-for-12 shooting with 5 rebounds and 7 assists in a 110-106 win over Fort Wayne.
“I haven’t hit the court in three, three-and-a-half weeks,” he said. “It takes a lot to get that rust off of you, but that’s why I’m going back to the D-League and doing those types of things to get the rust off before getting more minutes up here.”
On Friday, the Celtics recalled Smart, James Young, and Dwight Powell from Maine.
Smart said he’s still building up trust that his ankle is back to full strength
“Sometimes you want to be tentative on it and you’re kind of scared to use it, but you’ve got to keep that confidence to know that it’s strong enough to be what it was before it got hurt,” he said.
Young dropped 31 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 assists in Maine’s win Thursday, playing in a system practically identical to the one the Celtics run.
“Everything’s basically the same up there,” Young said. “We run the same plays and stuff like that, so I kind of already knew everything. We just really had to execute on the offensive end and that’s what we did.”
Stevens watched most of the second half and saw Young hold his own against players with NBA experience. There was rust on the offensive end, Stevens said, but as the game wore on, Young was able to knock that rust off.
“There were a lot of good players on the floor last night,” Stevens said. “There were a lot of guys with NBA experience on the floor and you get a chance to play and you get a chance to get conditioning. So a positive experience, and hopefully as we do those type of things it continues to be a benefit.”
A big help
Tyler Zeller made his fourth start of the season and it was largely because Stevens saw the size of the frontcourts the Celtics have faced recently and figured his team could benefit from the 7-footer’s presence. How long Zeller will remain in the starting lineup is uncertain, Stevens said, but he added, “He’s playing pretty well, and you know what you’re getting night in, night out. His physicality to start the game is helpful, there’s no question about it.” . . . Phil Pressey had long thought about what it would be like to play a game with his father Paul coaching on the opposing bench. He finally got the chance Friday, with Paul Pressey an assistant to Lakers coach Byron Scott. “It’s cool,” Phil said. “I’ve been thinking about that for a while. When I was in college, I was like, ‘It would be pretty neat to be on the other side as my dad.’ ”