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Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo envy each other, hate each other, and almost got traded for each other

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13:06   |   Jan 03, 2019

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Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo envy each other, hate each other, and almost got traded for each other
Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo envy each other, hate each other, and almost got traded for each other thumb Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo envy each other, hate each other, and almost got traded for each other thumb Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo envy each other, hate each other, and almost got traded for each other thumb

Transcription

  • - In October of 2018,
  • the Lakers and Rockets had a little confrontation.
  • It settled down, then suddenly reignited
  • into something way bigger.
  • That's because these two guys got involved,
  • Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo.
  • Their part in this fight was a long time coming.
  • (mysterious music)
  • Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo are great examples
  • of how much the team that drafts you
  • affects the course of your career.
  • In 2005, Paul was drafted fourth out of Wake Forest
  • by a terrible New Orleans Hornets team.
  • This would be the same year the Hornets
  • began hungering down in Oklahoma
  • while their home city recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
  • The team improved around their rookie of the year
  • point guard, but not enough to make the playoffs.
  • So in the summer of '06, the Hornets made moves,
  • signing sharp shooter, Peja Stojakovic,
  • then trading for big man Tyson Chandler.
  • But injuries hampered them,
  • and they still couldn't crack the post-season.
  • The '07-'08 season would be the Hornets breakthrough.
  • They returned to New Orleans.
  • Paul and power forward, David West,
  • became first-time All-Stars.
  • Byron Scott won Coach of the Year.
  • New Orleans won a franchise record 56 games,
  • made the playoffs, and destroyed Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks
  • in the first round.
  • In the next round, the Hornets came out strong
  • against the defending champion Spurs,
  • but after leading the series 2-0 and 3-2,
  • lost the round in a heartbreaking game seven defeat.
  • The Spurs advanced to the conference finals
  • where they fell to the Lakers,
  • who went onto the NBA Finals
  • and lost to a Boston Celtics team
  • with a kid named Rajon Rondo at point guard.
  • Rondo, like Paul, was a young rising star at his position.
  • Unlike Paul, Rondo had entered the league
  • a relatively unheralded prospect.
  • A mediocre Celtics team acquired him on draft night '06
  • after he was picked 21st out of Kentucky.
  • While Rondo played his way
  • into the starting lineup his rookie season,
  • Celtics star Paul Pierce missed a bunch of games
  • due to injury.
  • Boston stayed quite bad, winning just 24 games,
  • but while Chris Paul's Hornets had made some nice moves,
  • Rondo's Celtics got a makeover of historic magnitude.
  • They traded their lottery pick for Ray Allen,
  • made an even bigger trade for Kevin Garnett
  • a few days later, then made the greatest turnaround
  • in NBA history, finishing with 66 wins
  • just a year after winning 24.
  • And then, they won it all.
  • - Anything's possible!
  • - Rondo went from promising rookie
  • on a garbage team to starting point guard on a champion.
  • That's pretty wild.
  • So now, we're in the summer of '08,
  • which is an important juncture
  • because according to more recent accounts,
  • that's when the beef began.
  • After that 2018 Rockets Lakers fight,
  • some reporters pointed back to the 2008 Olympics
  • where Paul led the USA to a gold medal
  • while Rondo supposedly didn't make it past tryouts.
  • Reports from the time say Rondo was invited
  • to the select team, the younger players
  • who scrimmage against Team USA before competition.
  • Rondo and fellow Celtics youngster Kendrick Perkins
  • understandably declined the invitation
  • after playing NBA games well into June.
  • And Rondo would never have made an Olympic roster
  • that ended up featuring Paul, Jason Kidd,
  • and Deron Williams, but it is possible he was annoyed
  • to have been left off the list of over 35 finalists,
  • which dropped days before the Celtics won their championship
  • and included point guards
  • like Luke Ridnour and Kirk Hinrich.
  • I don't know why Rondo would hold that against Paul
  • in particular. He may have noticed
  • that Paul got a big contract extension that July,
  • but like, so did Deron Williams.
  • Guys drafted in '05 were due for new deals.
  • Nothing special there.
  • And there had been no visible beef in meetings
  • up to this point either.
  • Rondo made his NBA debut in an uneventful loss
  • against Paul and the Hornets.
  • He got his first win against Paul
  • in March of that championship season,
  • and Paul actually went out of his way
  • to praise his slightly younger opponent.
  • So did beef exist in '08?
  • It's possible, but it might be one of those things
  • where NBA insiders know more than we do.
  • Either way, Rondo was eager to prove critics wrong
  • and claimed to have done so by winning a ring in '08.
  • None of those other young point guards had done the same,
  • and while Boston once again cracked 60 wins,
  • the Hornets regressed in 2009.
  • Paul was healthy and effective.
  • He missed just four games because of a groin strain,
  • returning right in time to lose to the Celtics again,
  • but injuries assured New Orleans wouldn't come
  • anywhere near the prior season's playoff run.
  • Paul was considered by most the best point guard
  • in the NBA, but this fourth season backslide
  • began a long chapter of playoff disappointment
  • in his career.
  • And guess who predicted all that disappointment
  • right to Paul's face? (mysterious music)
  • Rondo, obviously.
  • The Hornets and Celtics met in November of '09,
  • and things went pretty typically.
  • Paul played great, despite some physical defense
  • from Rondo, but Boston got the win yet again.
  • The pair also picked up technicals
  • for wrastlin' a little bit, and whatever tension
  • built during the game snapped afterward.
  • The typical round of post-game handshakes got heated
  • when Rondo confronted Paul on the floor.
  • The two had to be separated, and we later found out why.
  • Rondo had trash talked with Paul by saying,
  • and this is a direct quote,
  • "I've got a ring, and you're never gonna win one,"
  • which I'm talking to you over nine years later
  • and that statement remains true to the word.
  • Paul didn't even reach a conference final
  • until his 13th season, but anyway,
  • Paul didn't like that comment and stewed for awhile.
  • Some reports said he bickered with Boston assistant,
  • Tom Thibodeau, and tried to enter the Celtics locker room,
  • though Paul later denied all of that.
  • Inside that locker room, Celtics PR demanded Rondo
  • never be asked about Paul ever.
  • This exchange epitomized the theme of this beef.
  • Rondo had a ring, and he was days away from agreeing
  • to a big extension of his own,
  • but he still wasn't considered on Paul's level
  • and some just judged his individual success
  • as very much a product of the incredible team
  • around him since '07.
  • Paul himself wouldn't praise Rondo
  • without that slight qualifier,
  • and people around the league, both media
  • and Rondo's own coach, dismissed the comparison.
  • But Paul's individual superiority kept getting rubbed in.
  • While the Celtics were visiting New Orleans
  • later that season, Paul was out with a knee injury,
  • but the Hornets trotted him out pre-game
  • to announce he'd been selected for Team USA again.
  • Paul didn't end up joining
  • that 2010 FIBA Championship roster,
  • yet even without Paul ahead of him, Rondo couldn't make it.
  • He was invited to training camp in Athens,
  • but saw limited playing time in exhibitions,
  • guessed where things were headed,
  • and withdrew from the team before they could cut him.
  • And that was it for Rondo's Team USA career.
  • The 2012 Olympics happened smack in the middle of his prime,
  • but he had no more interest in trying
  • to make the cut again among higher regarded point guards.
  • Anyway, something else more important happened
  • during Rondo's prime.
  • In 2011, Rondo became an All-Star for the first time,
  • but his Celtics had been treading water.
  • After winning that championship in Rondo's second season,
  • they had made the Finals only once,
  • falling in seven to the vengeful Lakers.
  • Boston wanted another title before the window closed
  • on their aging big three,
  • and with LeBron James fronting
  • an even stronger big three in Miami,
  • it was clear the existing roster couldn't get it done.
  • On top of that, there was some internal strife.
  • Rondo and backcourt mate, Ray Allen, weren't getting along,
  • and Rondo sometimes bristled at the demands
  • of Celtics coach, Doc Rivers.
  • So in November 2011, with the NBA lockout about to end,
  • Celtics GM, Danny Ainge got on the phone
  • to discuss trading Rondo for Chris Paul.
  • Several versions of the trade were discussed,
  • and the rumors reached full-on Woj tweet status.
  • It once again became a thing to compare the two players,
  • and you even had people like Shaq
  • who'd briefly been a Celtic before retiring
  • arguing that Rondo was the better point guard,
  • citing his evidence the greater success
  • his team had achieved.
  • Ultimately, the trade fell through.
  • Word at the time was that Paul wasn't willing
  • to commit to Boston long-term,
  • but according to Ray Allen's 2018 autobiography,
  • Coach Rivers vetoed the trade
  • because he, "couldn't do that,"
  • to his old friend, Hornets coach, Monty Williams.
  • I think the implication here is that Rondo's personality
  • might be tough for a coach to manage,
  • which does seem to be the case,
  • but Ray Allen might be a slightly biased source here.
  • After a big mess, Paul got dealt to the Clippers.
  • The first time Rondo visited CP3 in his new home,
  • the two exchanged a polite handshake
  • with nary a sign of beef.
  • And the feud kinda settled for awhile.
  • Injuries ended Rondo's time as an All-Star,
  • as did the gradual dismantling of the once champion Celtics.
  • One noteworthy part of that dismantling
  • came in summer 2013 when Doc Rivers left Boston
  • and took a job coaching Chris Paul and the Clippers.
  • Rivers, who had been a point guard in his playing days,
  • was as tough on Paul as he'd been on the young Rondo,
  • which raised comparisons again.
  • Rivers was also the Clippers' Senior VP of Basketball Ops
  • for awhile and brought in several former Celtics
  • to complement his core of Paul, Blake Griffin,
  • and DeAndre Jordan, which will be relevant later.
  • In December 2014, Boston finished their demolition
  • of the '08 Championship team by dealing Rondo
  • to the Dallas Mavericks.
  • That began a chapter of Rondo's career
  • spent bouncing from team to team,
  • battling coaches along the way.
  • In 2017, days after Paul got traded to the Rockets,
  • Rondo signed with Paul's old team in New Orleans,
  • now called the Pelicans.
  • This stint brought the beef back into focus a bit.
  • First of all, Rondo was joining forces
  • with his good friend, DeMarcus Cousins,
  • who has his own beef with Paul.
  • Second of all, Rondo broke Paul's single game franchise
  • assist record, which is kind of fun,
  • and third of all, they actually beefed a little bit
  • in a game Rondo didn't even play.
  • Rondo was out for rest
  • when the Rockets visited New Orleans on March 17th, 2018,
  • but managed to pick up a technical from the bench
  • by getting into a verbal argument with Paul.
  • So, that was a hint the feud still lived,
  • but as of October 20th of that year,
  • we didn't need anymore hints.
  • Rondo and Paul had been battling all night,
  • and when things got heated, they gravitated
  • toward one another, then they argued,
  • and Rondo maybe spit at Paul a little bit.
  • Then, Paul poked Rondo in the face,
  • and then, they punched each other a little
  • and got suspended. A lot of attention was spent
  • Zaprudering the footage to determine
  • whether or not Rondo spit and whether it was on purpose.
  • - [Man] It clearly looked like Rondo spit in his face.
  • - [Narrator] And elsewhere, people were sorting out
  • a reported confrontation between a Rondo family member
  • and Jada Paul, Chris's wife.
  • But for our purposes, the most interesting fallout
  • came from something Rondo said after the fight.
  • Quote, "Everyone wants to believe Chris Paul
  • "is a good guy, they don't know he's a horrible teammate.
  • "They don't know how he treats people."
  • To be clear before we dig in here,
  • Rondo has a reputation for being abrasive
  • and at times, outright abusive.
  • But I don't know where he gets the idea
  • that Paul is considered an angel.
  • Paul's own falling out with Doc Rivers
  • was widely reported, and he's got well-known beefs
  • and ugly incidents in his past too.
  • In any event, Rondo's comment about Paul
  • immediately invited analysis from people
  • who know both players, which because Doc
  • was running the Clippers for a while, is a lot of people.
  • Jeff Green and Pierce just said the fight
  • was a long time coming. - The confrontation,
  • I did see coming, I knew it was a matter--
  • - Why? - I knew it was
  • a matter of time. - And I'm surprised
  • that this is their first fight actually.
  • - Others actually offered judgment.
  • Big Baby Davis said he'd played with both,
  • and Paul was indeed a bad teammate.
  • Ryan Hollins said that Paul, his former Clippers teammate,
  • had some growing to do and went on to say
  • Rondo was one of his favorite teammates ever,
  • which is a little funny because he only played 15 games
  • in Boston. (mysterious music)
  • Like Hollins definitely did the same Getty Images search
  • that I did and that one photo is the only evidence
  • that those two were ever teammates.
  • Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, doesn't really count here
  • because he left the Celtics front office
  • right before they drafted Rondo,
  • but he chimed in to suggest Rondo calling Paul
  • a bad teammate was the pot calling the kettle black.
  • Or he was just tweeting some nice artwork for funsies,
  • also possible.
  • Doc Rivers, who might be the authority on the matter,
  • didn't issue a ruling on who's the worse teammate,
  • but did reflect on the decade of confrontation
  • and wondered aloud how it all started.
  • Is it really just that Rondo coveted Paul's status
  • as the best point guard?
  • I don't know, Doc.
  • It certainly adds up. Rondo was excellent at his peak,
  • but never quite at Paul's level,
  • at least not according to anyone but Shaq.
  • But it took Rondo just two years
  • to collect the ring Paul's chased for over a decade.
  • Individual accolades for one and team glory for the other
  • could generate enough mutual envy to fuel a beef.
  • Of course, fuel needs ignition,
  • so is there an incident somewhere in the past
  • that we don't know about?
  • Or is it simply that both these guys
  • are prone to acting like jerks?
  • The Paul Rondo beef is a mysterious one,
  • but everyone agrees, it is old, it is real,
  • and it is alive. (slow piano music)

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Description

When Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul got into it with each other very early in the 2018-19 season, lots of us wondered what the source of their beef was. Old Olympic team selection grudges? Frustration over perceived slights? Jealousy? Or maybe it's a little bit of all three...at least, as far as we know.

Written and produced by Seth Rosenthal
Shot and edited by Jiazhen Zhang

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