Tonight, Rajon Rondo made his return to the court in Boston to face their rival of more than half a century. But while the Lakers and Celtics fans usually hate one another other, the players share a bond — just like Larry Bird and Magic Johnson became a Courtship of Rivals. So when Kobe Bryant, when he wasn’t busy in class, said before the game Rondo was an “a__hole,” you knew he meant it in the nicest way possible.
Kobe was responding to a question about how Rajon would survive the rebuild in Boston after Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were dealt this past summer.
Kobe on how Rondo will survive the rebuild: "From what I understand he's an asshole like me, so he'll manage."
— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) January 17, 2014
After the game, Rajon was asked about Kobe’s comments:
“That’s a great compliment coming from Kobe.” [Laughter] “I feel the same way about him.” [Even more laughter] “No, but I think that’s what separates guys from people like Kobe and [myself]. We’re great competitors. Whatever it takes to win. I don’t like losing in anything I do, whether it’s off-the-court, on-the-court, I hate to lose. And I think that’s the way he approaches it.”
I’m not sure I’d lump Rajon in with Kobe quite this completely, but they’re both NBA champions, albeit in different circumstances, and they can both can get a bit prickly with the media, though Kobe has cultivated a more personable demeanor with reporters in recent years. Neither enjoys losing though, and that’s not something up for debate.
Except, Rondo’s Celtics lost to the Kobe-less Lakers, 107-104, after Rondo missed a game-tying three-pointer as the final buzzer sounded.
Still, it’s pretty funny the rivals are calling each other a__holes and it’s a compliment. For these two, it really is.
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @countcenci.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.