It has not been the kind of opening week the Lakers envisioned when they brought together some of the biggest names in today’s NBA—heck, in the history of the NBA—over the offseason. The team is 0-2 and the Dwight Howard-Anthony Davis sideline fight has already made this appear to be a fractured group.
And veteran point guard Rajon Rondo, one of six likely Hall of Famers on the Lakers’ roster, got into it with a fan, to boot. With the Lakers getting clobbered by 32 points at home against Phoenix, Rondo was preparing to inbounds a pass in the corner when he began pointing at a courtside fan. It is unclear what, exactly, the fan was saying that appeared to get under Rondo’s skin.
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After the play, Rondo approached the fan, formed his fingers into the shape of a gun and mockingly squeezed the “trigger.” The fan hit Rondo’s hand out of the way and was ejected, though Rondo certainly engaged in some provocation.
It is not clear whether the league will step in to punish Rondo, but a suspension is a definitely possibility. Rondo has averaged 4.5 points and 4.0 assists in 17.0 minutes in his first two games this season.
Vogel Speaks Out on Lakers’ Tensions
In addition to the exploits of Howard, Davis and Rondo, coach Frank Vogel was whistled for a technical foul during the game for arguing with the referees. Not a banner night, and we are only two games in.
Vogel’s technical actually came at a high point of the game for the Lakers, when they held a lead in the second quarter. The play that irritated Vogel was a drive by Chris Paul in which he bumped Malik Monk as he tried to defend. Vogel went out to halfcourt on the play, and had to be reined in by assistant coach David Fizdale.
“I think they were three isolated situations,” Vogel told reporters after the game. “The fan slapped Rondo’s hand. I think that has nothing to do with our composure. Dwight and AD had a miscue on a coverage and they talked it out. But when you’re getting your a** kicked, sometimes those conversations get heated. Those guys love each other. They talked it out and that’s going to happen from time to time. I’d rather our guys care than not care. I got a tech because—well, the reasons are obvious why I got a tech. You know, just leave it at that.”
For Lakers, Possible Rajon Rondo Suspension Looms
It is unlikely that, when it comes to Rondo, the league will just leave it at that. No matter what was said to Rondo, the shooting gesture is not likely to be ignored by the league office, and could yield a fine or even a game’s suspension.
Certainly, Rondo’s history with the league office won’t help his cause. The NBA does consider past bad acts when it doles out disciplinary actions, and Rondo has a long list of violations during his 16-year career. Most notable was his three-game suspension in October 2018 for a fight with Paul, who was then with the Rockets, in which Paul claimed Rondo spat on him.
Rondo was also suspended in 2015 for using a homophobic slur against referee Bill Kennedy, and in 2014 for fighting. He’s had two suspensions for other run-ins with referees, including throwing a ball at a ref in 2012 and making contact with a ref, also in 2012.
Add all that up, and Rondo could be looking at an unpaid day off soon.