Rajon Rondo said Tuesday he was simply making a joke with official Rodney Mott when he bumped him in Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, which along with what the NBA said was “a failure to cooperate with a league investigation” ended in a one-game suspended for Monday’s game against the Knicks.
On Saturday, Rondo was called for an offensive foul when he ran into Atlanta’s Josh Smith with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter, and made contact with Mott as he protested the call.
“Yeah, I thought Josh flopped,” Rondo told reporters Tuesday. “I told Rodney, his body size and what he weighs, and look at me, there’s no way I could have made him go into the stands off of contact. [Mott] laughed, threw the ball in, and we got back on defense.”
Rondo said he talked to league officials about the bump and didn’t understand why he was cited for failing to cooperate.
“I don’t know about an investigation,” Rondo said. “I don’t feel it was needed to have an investigation. I know Rodney, and that particular time on that play, I actually went up to him and I made a joke, he laughed. In the midst of it I guess I touched him. I did touch him, and the league, I guess, reviewed it. The media blew it up on SportsCenter or whatever, and I served a one-game suspension.”
Rondo insisted Tuesday he “didn’t drop any bad words” on his chat with the NBA Monday. But reporters, after Rondo agreed to a limited number of questions, kept pressing the point guard on the issue.
“I said like one or two questions,” Rondo said. “You [reporters] are asking like 30 questions. That situation’s over, man. They did what they had to do. Ask the league, you know?”
Monday’s suspension was Rondo’s fourth in less than a year, and second this season. When asked if he felt like a “repeat offender” in the league’s eyes, Rondo turned sarcastic.
“Yeah, I feel like I’m a criminal. I go to court a lot, they say investigation — what happened during the investigation?” Rondo said. “I’m not on trial or anything, it’s just how it is when you’re dealing with the league when you get in a little bit of trouble. I’m a repeat offender. I don’t know if I have two or three strikes, but it is what it is.”
Rondo admitted he might have to “adapt” his behavior as the NBA keeps his conduct under close monitoring.
“Maybe. I may have to, but I’ll adapt. I’ll learn the game,” Rondo said. “But I’m an emotional player in that aspect. I think at that time I had a triple-double, we were up 10. I wasn’t angry. I didn’t go over and yell at Rodney. I think he even said that in his statement. But the league put the hammer down and made a decision.”
Rondo also discussed the incident that took place after Monday’s win, in which Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony approached the Celtics’ team bus after verbally sparring with Kevin Garnett for much of the game. Video of the incident showed Rondo nearby as Anthony hovered close to Boston’s bus.
“I don’t know. I haven’t talked to Carmelo Anthony,” Rondo said. “I talked to KG, but like I said, we’ll focus on Phoenix tomorrow and getting better here as the Celtics. There was a couple people at the bus. I thought everybody was coming to talk to each other and figure out some things, going to dinner next time. I don’t know.”
Rondo said he knew Anthony and Garnett had been going at it during the game, but didn’t realize Anthony’s behavior carried over afterward.
“No, I didn’t. I actually left my location where I was watching the game around like three minutes to go in the fourth to get to the team bus, and I didn’t know what had happened,” Rondo said. “They were talking trash in the game, but I didn’t know it escalated to whatever happened after the game.”
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