Rondo previously mocked the Celtics for planning to honor Isaiah Thomas' tenure with the team.
It's safe to say there is no love lost between Rajon Rondo and Isaiah Thomas.
Both players were ejected in the first quarter of the Pelicans' 139-117 win over the Lakers on Wednesday night after the two were tangled up and exchanged words. Rondo hounded Thomas from the moment he came off the bench into the game—he picked him up in the full court and played very physical defense. The two have a bit of a history that might explain why things got so heated, so quickly—Rondo hounded Thomas
Back in January, Rondo was asked about the Celtics' plan to honor Isaiah Thomas with a tribute video when the Cavs, who Thomas played for at the time, visited Boston on Feb. 11, the same night of Paul Pierce's jersey retirement ceremony. Rondo, who spent eight and a half seasons in Boston and won the 2008 title with the Celtics, seemed bothered that Thomas, who only spent two years with the team, would get a video.
"What has he done?” Rondo told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. When a reporter said Thomas led the Celtics to the conference finals, Rondo said “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here?”
"This is the Boston Celtics. This isn’t the Phoenix Suns, no disrespect to any other organization, but you don’t hang conference titles. Do we hang going to the conference finals? What do we hang here?"
After the game, Thomas told the Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli that Rondo brought up the video tribute that never was—Thomas was traded before the Cavs' Feb. 11 game in Boston and joined the Lakers after they'd already played in Boston. Thomas also suggested on Twitter that the Celtics don't show him a tribute so that Pierce could have the night to himself. Thomas also said Rondo hit him in the face three times before he reacted.
"Whatever reason, he's an upset guy about me," Thomas said, per ESPN. "I don't know what it is, but it's fine. He kept bringing the tribute up when I was the one that shut the tribute down. I'm far past that. ... For me to be ejected was uncalled for."
Thomas was then asked if he had any further history with Rondo.
"I mean, my team beat his team in the playoffs last year," Thomas said. His Celtics beat the Bulls 4-2 in the first round of the playoffs, though Rondo guided the Bulls to a 2-0 series lead before an injury kept him out of the final four games. "Maybe that is what's wrong. I don't know. There's nothing. Nothing should've made that escalate like it did. He already had his agenda written down right when I checked into the game. It was obvious. He picked me up full court, trying to be physical."
Rondo did not speak to the media after the game.
Thomas averaged 28.9 points last season with the Celtics and was named second team All-NBA. Before this season, he was traded to Cleveland in the deal that brought Kyrie Irving to Boston, and then moved to Los Angeles before the trade deadline after an unsuccessful 15-game stint with the Cavs.
Lakers coach Luke Walton was also ejected after yelling expletives to officials in the second quarter. After the game, he said the referees' handling of the Rondo-Thomas situation contributed to his frustration. Namely, he said he didn't feel the officials intervened to protect Thomas, whom he felt was doing his best to not be provoked.