Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo have been fierce rivals over the years, but now the two uber competitive guards are set to team up with the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s a partnership that has spawned some natural questions about how they’ll co-exist. While they’ll cheer for each other on game day, expect that same intensity to remain during practice.
“Russ and I, we’ve been competing for so long,” Rondo told reporters during Tuesday’s media day. “He’s one of the best, ultimate competitors I’ve played with in my career. I love competing against Russ. I know he’s going to bring it every night. I know he’s looking to destroy me. Likewise, I’m looking to destroy him.
“There’s no better feeling than to go out against someone that plays at a high level and is going to bring it.”
The Lakers are a veteran-laden squad who have battled over the years. However, they are all now combining forces to hopes of winning a title, willing to do what’s best for that common goal.
“We’ve had a lot of great battles with a lot of these guys that are now my teammates, and I’m looking forward to putting everything in the past and putting it together for the greater good of the team and winning a championship here,” Rondo said when he was introduced this offseason as a member of the Lakers for a second time.
As for the relationship with Westbrook, the two seem to be getting along just fine, as evident during media day.
Westbrook Knows LeBron James Will Make Him Better
Westbrook is a triple-double machine and has a resume of personal accolades that can stack up with the best of them. However, he’s still missing that illusive NBA title, which he hopes to remedy with the Lakers playing alongside LeBron James and Co.
“When you get a chance to play against one of the greatest players of all time and consistently, it helps my game,” Westbrook told ESPN. “It helps my preparation, makes me focus more on the things I need to focus on to get to a point where I can sit down and say, ‘I’ve accomplished everything I can accomplish in this league and now I’m lucky enough to be able to play alongside him.’ So I’m looking forward to that, looking forward to the things we can accomplish here together this season.”
Westbrook is looking to James — who has four titles to his name — as the guiding force this season as they look to wrangle the championship.
“LeBron out of anybody else, he knows what it takes to win a championship,” Westbrook said. “My understanding of the commitment, understanding the sacrifices that we are both going to have to make, including myself and [Anthony Davis] as well for the betterment on the team, and finding ways to be able to win a championship. And that’s the ultimate goal. So anything along the way … we cannot get distracted, cannot get deterred from our ultimate goal.”
There Was No Chance Westbrook Was Joining Clippers
A big part of the storyline of Westbrook landing with the Lakers was the fact that the former MVP was coming home to LA. The same thing could have played out with the Clippers, but there was no chance Westbrook was going to the other LA squad — at least according to his former general manager Tommy Sheppard of the Wizards, who brokered his move to the Lakers.
“I really have to make sure the record is straight on that,” Sheppard said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “Russell actually never asked to move on. He just said, ‘If I can get to the Lakers, that’d be something I would love to do. If not, I’ll be back here.’ I said, ‘What about the Clippers?’ He said, ‘Hell no.’ So Russell was happy being here and we were very grateful for him being here.”
The Lakers begin their preseason on Oct. 3 against the Brooklyn Nets.