The NBA bubble’s first fan-to-player altercation happened in Game 5 between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Lakers Saturday night.
Before putting the finishing touches on another lopsided win (119-96) and punching their ticket to the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers watched Russell Westbrook call out a spectator in the crowd midway through the fourth quarter. Westbrook, who had been getting into it with Rajon Rondo verbally throughout the game, was supposedly dealing with one Rondo on the court and another, Rondo’s brother William Rondo, from the stands.
William Rondo, who’s in the bubble as an NBA employee as the head of Global Concierge Services and architect of the league’s barbershop on campus, took in Game 5 from the front row Saturday and could hear Westbrook yell out “who are you talking to?” while LeBron James was shooting his first of two free-throw attempts.
After James’ made free-throw, you can see Westbrook start walking towards the sideline before he’s eventually held back by a game official.
“People at the game are supposed to shut their mouths and watch the game,” Westbrook said after the game when he was asked about Rondo. “That’s the rules when you have family or people here. I guess because (Rajon) Rondo was talking sh– then he decided he wanted to hop in, too. But it’s OK, it’s all good. I get it. He wanted to take up for his brother, I don’t know (why) but. That’s it.”
Rondo’s brother was ejected from the game.
“Those rules stand for everybody though,” Westbrook added. “Don’t matter who it is, family, whatever. When you cross that line then you’re supposed to be at home. There’s no rules or regulation for that but he started talking crazy and I don’t play that game.”
Rajon Rondo Reacts to His Brother’s Ejection
ESPN’s Marc Spears of The Undefeated spoke to Rajon, who addressed the confrontation between his brother and Westbrook, after the game.
“He didn’t say anything crazy, raise his voice and cuss (Russ),” Rondo said. “He called the man ‘Trash.’ As players, we get away with manipulating the game and manipulating the referees as if we are being attacked. I’ve done it in the past.”
No word if either Rondo with face further punishment. Unlike previous games throughout the best-of-7 series between the Lakers and Rockets that outside of NBA media members almost exclusively featured only mothers and children in the crowd.
Houston Rockets Eliminated In Five Games
As for the game itself, the Lakers cruised to their series-clinching victory with little-to-no resistance. James flirted with a triple-double (29 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists), Kyle Kuzma provided 17 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers and Markieff Morris drained a perfect 4-for-4 from deep on his way to 16 points.
Westbrook, who had another off-shooting night, finished with 10 points on 4-of-13 and James Harden led with a team-high 30 points. Westbrook spoke to what’s next for the Rockets between now and the start of the 2020-21 campaign.
“Obviously, it didn’t turn out as planned but, you know, but there’s so many things, so many different obstacles that we as a team have to overcome,” Westbrook said. “Me, personally, as well so (we had) not a bad year but obviously not the way we wanted to end it.”
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