After months of living on the NBA’s bubble campus in the Orlando, the Los Angeles Lakers are finally going home as champions after defeating the Miami Heat in six games of a thrilling NBA Finals.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis lived up the lofty preseason expectations placed upon them by leading the Lakers to the franchise’s 17th NBA championship, while key role players Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Alex Caruso and Kyle Kuzma proved to be valuable contributors in their first postseason appearances.
Veterans like JaVale McGee and Danny Green added more rings to their collection, while Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris got to celebrate their first.
For Rajon Rondo, this title is special as he became just the second player in NBA history to win a title with both the Lakers and the Boston Celtics. Rondo joins Clyde Lovellette as the only other player to accomplish the feat, but Lovellette’s Laker championship came when the team was still based in Minneapolis.
Thus, Rondo is the lone player to ever win a title with the Celtics and L.A. Lakers.
Rondo’s last Finals appearance coincidentally came in 2010 when Boston faced off against Los Angeles in an intense seven-game series that resulted in another banner for the purple and gold. Rondo detailed lessons he learned from that experience and it may help explain how he was able to play so well in his first postseason with LA.
“Playoff Rondo” was in full effect when he returned to the lineup after thumb surgery, showing that he still had more than enough in the tank. Rondo’s playoff performances were the best he has looked in a Laker jersey and attributed his success to the heightened stakes.
“Obviously, the regular season and playoffs are two different types of games,” Rondo explained. “Each level you have to raise your level of play. But for me, I didn’t know what to expect coming back, I haven’t played ball in seven months, six, seven months.
“A couple injuries when I did come back, so I didn’t know what to expect as far as my output and what I would do as far as producing on the court. But I’ve had a lot of belief in my work and my craft and what I’ve put in the last couple months.
“Coach Vogel has instilled a lot of confidence in me coming back, obviously, saying that I play a very important role on this team, along with Rob Pelinka, as well. Those guys from the top believed in me from Day 1, and I just didn’t want to let my teammates down. I didn’t want to let myself down. I’m a very competitive person, and feeling like I do have an impact on this team, helping this team win.”
Rajon Rondo’s off-court effect on the Lakers
Not only is Rondo a brilliant floor general, he is also a valued voice in the locker room that is able to push the star duo of James and Davis as well as encourage and uplift his fellow role players.
Also, Rondo kept himself involved as a de facto assistant coach while he was injured by breaking down film and assisting the coaching staff with preparation.
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