Rajon Rondo gets two-game ban
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has been suspended for two games for his involvement in an on-court altercation during Wednesday's loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the NBA announced Thursday.
Rondo, Wallace and Brooklyn's Kris Humphries were ejected from Wednesday's game after a confrontation spilled into the stands. Garnett received a technical foul, but was not ejected.
I was sticking up for my teammates. I didn't try to start a fight. I'm not trying to be a bully. I just didn't think the play was fair that he made on Kevin (Garnett), that's all.” -- Rajon Rondo
Speaking during his weekly appearance on Boston sports radio WEEI, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge divulged the length of the suspension but didn't care to analyze it.
"I don't want to get into that," Ainge said when asked if the punishment fit the crime. "Maybe a little bit excessive in my mind. I think that it escalated into the crowd. I think that's probably part of it. But, anyways, it's disappointing. It's frustrating."
Added Ainge: "I'll talk to Rondo about it and I'll leave it at that."
Nets general manager Billy King disagreed with the disciplinary measures sent down by Stu Jackson, the NBA's executive vice president of basketball operations.
"Let's just put it this way: I had a lengthy conversation with Stu Jackson in which we agreed to disagree," King said. "Stu has a tough job at the league, and they make decisions, (that) from a team standpoint, you don't agree with, but they have to make tough decisions. I don't want to share my conversation with him because I don't think that's fair because his job is tough."
This is Rondo's third suspension over a nine-month span. He also received a two-game ban in February for zipping a ball at an official in Detroit and then a one-game suspension in April for making contact with an official during Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in Atlanta.
On Wednesday, Rondo took exception after Humphries delivered a hard foul that sent Garnett crashing hard onto his back in the second quarter. Rondo immediately confronted Humphries, delivering a two-handed shove.
The two then got tangled, with Rondo the aggressor, and the shoving spilled into the stands beneath the basket in front of the Celtics' bench. Players and coaches from both teams rushed onto the court, with security and team personnel trying to defuse the situation.
Garnett said Thursday that Humphries has a reputation for being out of control.
"When you watch film on the dude, he's always extra," Garnett said on WEEI. "We watched him on film the last time we played him in Brooklyn and he kind of gave Paul (Pierce) a similar type of foul, two hands, had something on it. Dude's always been known to be out of control. He's always tried to play the tough guy or whatever role you want to do it. It was a little extra, but it comes with the territory and it comes with the game. ... I guess they're trying to hold up to the whole Brooklyn mentality."
In addition to Garnett's comments, Celtics guard Jason Terry called Humphries soft. Does he care what they say?
"Nah. I don't care," Humphries told reporters in Orlando on Friday in a video posted on the Nets' official website. "When a team loses a game, they want to sit there and point fingers. You gotta focus on yourself and what your own team is doing when you lose."
Ainge suggested Rondo is unlikely to appeal the suspension, one that some observers suggested could have been much longer after spilling into the crowd. Rondo will sit out Friday's game against the Portland Trail Blazers and Saturday's contest against the Milwaukee Bucks. His first game back should be a visit from the Minnesota Timberwolves next Wednesday at TD Garden.
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"I've had conversations with (Rondo) throughout the day and I don't think there's any appeal process," Ainge said. "I think we could appeal it all we want and I just don't think it's going anywhere."
Rondo talked with league officials on Thursday afternoon and, after Boston's practice, expressed hope he might be spared.
"I told them the truth," Rondo said before the suspension came down. "I don't know what's going to happen. They haven't made a decision yet, so I'm just waiting to hear back from the league. I went through practice today hoping I'll play tomorrow, but you never know."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said earlier Thursday that he did not believe Rondo's actions deserved a suspension.
"The only thing would be is they went in the stands, which you never want. But there were no punches thrown or anything," Rivers said. "And, really, when you see it, I thought Rondo was trying to get him away and then he kind of pulled Rondo into him and that's when everything started. So I don't really believe he went in there trying to fight. I don't think anyone did. It just escalated and that's what happened. I thought the game, at least on one end, was physical. And you can hear some of our guys complain about the cheap shots and stuff like that, and it really never got cleaned up, and then it led to that."
Rondo called the foul by Humphries "malicious," and explained why he reacted the way he did.
"Well, I thought the play on Kevin was a malicious play, you know?" Rondo said. "I got hurt last year on a similar play like that -- a guy going up in the air, defenseless, on his way down. And you know, I just, I pushed Humphries. And after that, it was a pushing war."
Humphries disagreed with Rondo's opinion of the foul on Friday.
"I think he was off balance a little bit when he took the shot, and it was just a foul on the arm," he said. "I'm not really focused on that. Like I said earlier, that's old news. We've gotta play Orlando tonight."
Rondo was asked Thursday if he regrets his actions.
"I know I have to be out there for my teammates," he said. "That's the only thing about it. But I was sticking up for my teammates. I didn't try to start a fight. I'm not trying to be a bully. I just didn't think the play was fair that he made on Kevin, that's all."
Later Rondo added: "This game is a contact sport, it's an emotional game. I play with an edge every night. I think that's what separates me from a lot of guys. So I'm not going to let that take me away from my game. I didn't do anything dirty. This is a new day and era, the style of how we play the game. Back in the day, the ball would have been checked up, some free throws would have been made and we would have kept going. But, it's a new era, and we've got different rules now."
Rivers affirmed that he wants Rondo to be able to control himself during what he often refers to as "emotional hijacks."
"The one Rondo understands is he can't allow himself to be taken out of the game," Rivers said. "And he did last night. Now, again, I don't think he had any intentions when it started. I don't think he went in there thinking, 'We're going to get in a fight.' I'm just going to stand up for my guy and got his legs up under him. Unfortunately the other guy reacted. Rondo reacted back. And then, now you're out. Again, it's snap, it's quick, and it could happen to any of us, and it has happened to me."
Ainge did say he's not particularly worried about Rondo's pattern of incidents, noting he likes Rondo's fire.
"I think that Rondo -- I believe that he is learning," Ainge said. "I believe that Rondo is maturing all the time. It doesn't mean that he's not going to have two or three of these things -- hopefully not this type of thing again this year. But I love Rondo's emotion. He's got to learn, and I think that he is learning, and I'm not as worried about Rondo as others might be."