Love was not in the air between Isaiah Thomas and Rajon Rondo on Valentine’s Day.
Both guards were ejected from Wednesday’s Pelicans-Lakers game after they were each given double technical fouls in the first quarter.
Rondo aggressively tangled with Thomas during play and it continued during the TV timeout. Referees had enough and tossed the two ex-Celtics with 33.3 seconds left in the opening quarter.
After the game, Thomas told ESPN that Rondo hit him in the face three times and even brought up the video the Celtics had planned for him earlier this year.
“Whatever reason, he’s an upset guy about me,” Thomas said. “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 said he’s not sure what other bad blood there could be between the two, other than Thomas’ Celtics eliminating Rondo’s Bulls from the playoffs last year. At the end of the day, Thomas said “nothing should’ve made that escalate like it did.”
“I don’t know what was going on with him. I don’t know why I got thrown out. I don’t want to comment too much on it … It was obvious what was going on. He was being too aggressive for whatever reason, and he also hit me in the face three times,” Thomas said. “At some point, as a human, if no one is going to protect me, I got to protect myself, and that is when I spoke up and got upset. I hope the NBA figures something out with that, because it was wrong for me to be ejected.”
Rondo did not speak to the media following Wednesday night’s game.
The Pelicans guard previously took issue with the idea that the Celtics were honoring Thomas after one season of leading the team to the Eastern Conference Finals. Rondo told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette in January that he felt Thomas didn’t do anything that deserved a tribute in Boston.
“This is the Boston Celtics,” Rondo said. “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?”
Thomas told ESPN he didn’t think it was a big deal, considering Chris Paul got a video tribute from the Clippers and Patrick Beverley got one from the Rockets. He said he was able to laugh off Rondo’s previous comments.
“It was what it was. I’m the one that stopped the video tribute from happening because I wanted Paul Pierce to have his full night. I didn’t want to take nothing from him. I know [Rondo] played on Paul Pierce’s team. He’s gonna always have Paul Pierce’s back, which is fine. I didn’t lose sleep over it. It was obvious [that it] continued to be brought up with what happened tonight,” Thomas said.
The Celtics still have not held a video tribute for Thomas after moving it from the game where Pierce was honored with a jersey retirement ceremony.
Rondo and Thomas weren’t the only two ejected from Wednesday’s game.
Lakers coach Luke Walton was tossed in the second quarter after cursing at officials over foul calls. He said he watched the remainder of the game alongside Thomas when he was sent to the locker room early.
The Pelicans went on to win over the Lakers, 139-117.
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