“It’s not a rivalry,” James said last November when the two teams met here, a game the Celtics won on a dramatic buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Jeff Green. “They’re a team that’s trying to figure things out while their best player is out.”
Now Rondo, who missed nearly a year with a knee injury, is back, and he’ll play Tuesday night when the teams meet up again at AmericanAirlines Arena.
But does the Celtics guard think the rivalry is dead, with former Celtics Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce playing in Brooklyn after being dealt there last summer?
“I mean, that’s a tough question,” Rajon Rondo said after practice. “It’s not a rivalry. But I still don’t like those guys.”
Another reporter tried to steer the interview in another direction, with a question about Rondo’s restrictions on minutes. Rondo answered the question, saying that his 20-minute limit — five minutes per quarter — probably would stay the same Tuesday.
Then he turned back to the other reporter, the one who mentioned James.
“To go back and answer your question, I don’t really like anybody I play against,” Rondo said. “That’s just the type of attitude I approach the game with. It’s a business. It’s a game. We’re not friends on the court. Afterwards it’s a different story, but while we’re playing, I’m trying to win.”
Also, he said, there’s not just one thing he doesn’t like about the Heat.
“A lot of things upset me about Miami,” Rondo said. “Let me go home and write [them] down. Nah, just we’ve had some great battles in the past.
“When you play a team — I could say the same thing about the Knicks or the teams we’ve battled in the past, the Game 7 series — it’s a grind. You’re competing. It’s a competition. There’s just some teams you just don’t like.” The Boston Globe