Lakers’ Rajon Rondo confronted LeBron James about body language in 2018-19 season
On Sunday, ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan published an in-depth look at the various ways in which Rajon Rondo has impacted the Los Angeles Lakers and other teams — on and off the floor, for good and bad — over his NBA career.
Like his Lakers teammate, LeBron James, Rondo’s best asset may be his brain. But Jackie Mac’s piece also makes clear that Rondo’s willingness to speak his mind and hold others accountable is equally valuable to the Lakers.
That includes James, who was hampered by a lingering groin injury in 2018-19 and seemed to be stalling for a season until Anthony Davis (possibly) showed up, rather than entertain a serious championship push with his young team.
Rondo noticed James’ poor body language and called out the superstar for setting a bad example:
“The Lakers cited Rondo’s IQ when they signed him, then quickly learned his willingness to challenge the best was an unexpected bonus. Amid a frustrating 2018-19 season, Rondo noted James souring on the young players and immediately confronted him,” MacMullan writes.
“‘When guys are making the same mistakes over and over and over, it’s hard to bite your tongue,’ Rondo says, ‘but I tried to get [James] to focus on his body language … Those young guys were looking at everything he did. If they missed four shots in a row and LeBron was making a face, it was crushing to them. He was their Michael Jordan. They didn’t want to let him down. But if LeBron said one thing positive to Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma, they immediately were back to their old selves.'”
A year later, those winning habits reinforced by Rondo’s attention to detail are paying off, as the Lakers sit two games away from a championship. His impact on the court has been positive, too, during the playoff run.
The veteran point guard notched 16 points and 10 assists in Game 2, and hit multiple big second-half threes.