The Los Angeles Lakers play under a spotlight not many other teams do or can rival, and with that comes intense scrutiny and analysis of seemingly every act and decision. Although it was in a game that saw LeBron James make NBA history, Rajon Rondo became the latest victim of that level of attention.
Upon checking out with 48 seconds remaining in the game and the Lakers about to suffer a fourth consecutive loss that essentially ended any lingering hope of making the playoffs, Rondo sat down in a courtside seat that had been vacated by an early-departing fan.
He was five chairs from Lakers head athletic trainer Marco Nuñez, who essentially represents the edge of the team’s bench. A empty chair was on either side of Rondo as he wore a blank stare.
He approached teammates after the final buzzer as the group walked together to the locker room. The moment nonetheless went viral, and led to Rondo meeting with Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager, but avoiding a fine or possible suspension, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo will not be fined or disciplined for sitting in a courtside seat removed from his teammates late in the Lakers’ 115-99 loss Wednesday to the Denver Nuggets, sources told ESPN.
Rondo met with Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka on the team’s off day Thursday to discuss his seat choice and how it was perceived.
“They notified me that it was a league rule that you can’t sit there,” Rondo told ESPN. “I wasn’t aware of it. But now I know going forward where I need to be.”
When asked about the situation, Rondo was perplexed why it generated so much buzz. “I’ve done it maybe eight to 10 times this year,” he said. “I don’t know why it’s a big deal now.”
One game where Rondo was not seated with teammates — albeit with less distance between himself and the Lakers bench — came in a February blowout road loss to the Indiana Pacers. Though, that case flew under the radar due to James being seated three empty chairs from teammates on the bench.
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