Isaiah Thomas Explains Why He Was Involved in Bizarre Altercation With Rajon Rondo

Isaiah Thomas has made headlines on numerous occasions over the course of the last week because of his reported beef with LeBron James and the Cavaliers. But on Wednesday night, Thomas set his sights on beefing with a different player—and it ended with him getting ejected from a game before it even reached the end of the first quarter.

Thomas and Rajon Rondo were both ejected from the Lakers/Pelicans game on Wednesday after they were involved in an altercation towards the end of the first frame. The two players got tangled up with one another several times and exchanged words before they were hit with double technical fouls and sent packing. It was an odd scene with Rondo seemingly trying to provoke Thomas while guarding him. You can watch it play out here.

Following the game, Thomas was asked about what happened between him and Rondo, and he claimed Rondo hit him in the face three times during the game before tensions boiled over. He also claimed Rondo repeatedly brought up the video tribute the Celtics planned for Thomas on the same night as Paul Pierce’s jersey retirement ceremony before eventually canceling it at Thomas’ request.

“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.”

Rondo didn’t speak with the media after the game on Wednesday night, but it’s worth noting that if he did taunt Thomas over the tribute, it wouldn’t come as a total surprise. Rondo was asked about the tribute after a game in January, and he spoke out against the Celtics deciding to do it in the first place.

“What has he done?” Rondo asked at the time, before being told about how Thomas led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals last season and responding accordingly. “Oh, that’s what we celebrate around here?”

However, Thomas told reporters he wasn’t upset about what Rondo said when he was asked about those comments on Wednesday night.

“He said what he said, I laughed it off,” Thomas said. “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 also told reporters he doesn’t share any bad blood from the past with Rondo. He theorized Rondo might possibly be upset with him because Thomas and the Celtics beat Rondo and the Bulls in the playoffs last season, but he couldn't say for sure why Rondo seemed so irked at him.

“I mean, my team beat his team in the playoffs last year,” Thomas said. “Maybe that is what's wrong. I don't know. There's nothing. Nothing should've made that escalate like it did. He already had his agenda written down right when I checked into the game. It was obvious. He picked me up full court, trying to be physical.”

Whatever the case may be, Thomas seemed to shrug off the altercation with Rondo. But he said he does plan to try and appeal the technical fouls he received during the game. He thinks Rondo, not him, should be forced to deal with the consequences of them.

“It felt like they were waiting for me to get upset,” Thomas said, referencing the game’s officials. “I got hit in the face three times, and the third time I got hit in my face, I reacted and tried to tell the refs, 'Are you guys going to control this?' I definitely need to get those technical fouls rescinded.”

Thomas and Rondo weren’t the only ones to get ejected from the game. Lakers head coach Luke Walton got ejected just before halftime, too, for arguing with the game’s officials. The Pelicans went on to win 139-117.

More from Complex

People Are Clowning Rajon Rondo for Wearing Velcro Shoes to Cavs/Celtics Game

With Paul Pierce set to have his no. 34 Boston Celtics jersey retired after the team's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, a few people from The Truth's Celtics days were there to show their support. Kevin Garnett, Doc Rivers, and Rajon Rondo sat next to one another courtside, and wait, wait, wait, what in the world are these shoes on Rondo's feet?! 

Someone was quick to zoom in on Rondo's, um, unique kicks and essentially open the roasting floodgates. 

And Twitter knew what to do from there. 

People can't be out here taking fashion risks anymore. 

More from Complex

The Cavaliers and Lakers Just Pulled Off a Blockbuster Trade Involving Isaiah Thomas

Things never seemed quite right with Isaiah Thomas in Cleveland. Now, less than six months after the Cavaliers acquired Thomas in a massive deal with the Boston Celtics for Kyrie Irving, Cleveland has flipped the veteran guard in another blockbuster trade.

News of the trade broke Thursday on Twitter, with ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski sharing details of the swap.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne added that the Lakers plan to hold on to both former Cavaliers players.

All we can say is: WOW. We're sure there's much more to come on this deal.

The bottom line is, the Cavs had to make a move of some kind. Things were falling apart, and they're intent on making a fourth-straight NBA Finals run in what could be LeBron James' final season in The Land. It's likely LeBron had some type of say in this deal.

It will be fascinating to see how this move affects Cleveland's on- and off-court success in the second half of the NBA season. The Cavs are currently in third in the East, behind the Celtics and Raptors.

More from Complex

Jalen Rose Calls Paul Pierce ‘Petty’ Over Celtics Remarks, Pierce Fires Back With ’81’ Joke

The NBA is taking #PettyWarz to a whole new level in 2018.

First, a little in-game wrassling between the Rockets and Clippers spilled into a locker room confrontation that had Twitter aflame with things like secret tunnels, diversions, Austin Rivers being arrogant, and LAPD takeovers. The following night, Orlando guard Arron Afflalo threw a reckless haymaker at Minnesota's Nemanja Bjelica. Then, after Michael Carter-Williams and Tim Frazier became the NBA's eighth and ninth ejections over the past three days, Wizards coach Scott Brooks dialed it up yet another notch by inviting Dwight Howard back onto the court to shoot the technical free throws, only to see Howard make both, do the Sam Cassell big balls dance, and blow a kiss to the Washington coach.

Incredible.

But perhaps the juiciest story of all revolves around Paul Pierce and Isaiah Thomas. Most of you know the details by now: Celtics announce celebration for Thomas during Feb. 11 Cleveland-Boston matchup; Pierce gets angry, wants own night for his jersey retirement; former Celtics sit down beside campfire, gush about how amazing they were; media/Twitter (ahem, Shannon Sharpe) remind Pierce he's no Kobe; Thomas posts veiled “hating hours” Instagram message. It could be the plot for season 2 of Big Little Lies.

Yesterday on ESPN's NBA Countdown, Jalen Rose summed up the whole thing when he called Pierce “petty” to his face, and the resulting back and forth had Pierce looking like he was ready to risk his job. (Thomas, for his part, liked the clip on social media.)

I mean, is Jalen Rose not correct? The Celtics honoring Isaiah during the game does not take away from Pierce's moment afterward. The Celtics honoring Isaiah for not just his play on the court but for what he inspired in their fans and the Boston community does not take away from Pierce's moment afterward.

Of course, being that petty is the theme of the month, Pierce wouldn't let it go, coming back at Rose with yet another “81” joke. The former Toronto Raptors guard will probably never live these down, but at least he can take it and keep it moving.

And the critics say the NBA isn't entertaining anymore because the Cavs and Warriors always win. 

More from Complex

Isaiah Thomas-Paul Pierce Drama; Gilbert Arenas Punched; Aaron Afflalo Headlocked | Out of Bounds

On today’s episode of #OutofBounds, Gil tells the story of the time he tried to break up a fight between Orlando Magic teammates and ended up being the only person who got punched. With the Carolina Panthers still in search of a new owner, many people have showed interest, including celebs Dale Earnhardt Jr., Diddy, and Steph Curry. The crew weighs in on who they think would be the best fit and who will actually be the next owner. Paul Pierce dead set against Isaiah Thomas getting a tribute video on the same night as his Boston Celtics jersey-retiring. While Adam and Pierce believe IT can get at least a 30-second video, Gil thinks Pierce should have a full-on Pierce-Land tribute like Kobe. One thing they all agree on is that Kid Rock should not headline the NHL All-Star Game. 

More from Complex

Gordon Hayward Suffers Brutal Leg Injury in First Game With Celtics

Just six minutes into his first season with his new team, the Boston Celtics, All-Star forward Gordon Hayward suffered an absolutely brutal leg injury in a clip that nobody would blame you for skipping over (seriously, it's graphic).

It is being reported that Hayward suffered a fracturted left ankle. 

During this recently concluded offseason, Hayward signed a four-year/$128 million contract with a Celtics team that was expected to challenge the Cavaliers for Eastern Conference supremacy. Obviously those hopes took a serious hit tonight, not that that's on the minds of any of the players at Quicken Loans Arena, as evidenced by these reactions:

Still other players who are not in Cleveland expressed their condolences and shock on social media as well:

We will update when we have more info.

More from Complex

The Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas Trade is Reportedly in Jeopardy

Tuesday’s blockbuster NBA trade between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics has technically not been finalized, and according to multiple reports the proposed deal is hitting a snag due to concerns about Isaiah Thomas’ hip injury. 

Thomas missed several games as the Cavs and Celtics faced off during last season’s Eastern Conference Finals after re-aggravating a right hip injury he suffered during Game 6 of the Celtics’ second-round series against the Washington Wizards. While some reports referred to that injury as a hip strain, both the exact nature of the injury and when Thomas originally hurt his hip are unclear.

NBA bylaws require both teams participating in a trade to disclose in writing all information held by the respective team’s players relevant to the player’s health and ability to play basketball. The players are also required to take physical examinations, which Thomas completed Friday.

Perhaps more telling were statements Celtics general manager Danny Ainge made earlier this week about Thomas’ health impacting the trade.

“There’s gonna be probably a little bit of a delay for Isaiah as he starts the season this year, but I think that Isaiah should be fine and healthy as the season goes along,” Ainge said. He also confirmed that Thomas’ health concerns played “some” role in trading the star point guard after he put up one of the more efficient high-volume scoring seasons in league history.

“Uncertainty over the fitness of his injured hip has Cavaliers officials evaluating the results and considering possible ramifications to the blockbuster trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics earlier this week,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported.

Kyrie Irving is reportedly scheduled to take his physical with the Celtics Saturday, and the All-Star point guard comes with his own injury concerns. Irving’s college career at Duke was limited to 11 games due to a foot injury. In three of Irving’s six seasons in the NBA, he has played less than 60 of a possible 82 games due to injuries. 

In June of 2015, Irving left Game 1 of an NBA Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors with a fractured kneecap. The injury required season-ending surgery and led to him missing a portion of the following season while recovering.

More from Complex

Who Won the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas Trade? We All Did.

Well, the trade everyone was expecting to happen finally happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers sent All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night, in exchange for fellow All-Star guard Isaiah Thomas and a whole mess of other assets, including Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick—a pick Celtics GM Danny Ainge had seemed loathe to give up for anything. In the end, not only did he give it up, he gave it up to the team that beat his in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Say what you want about the NBA, just never say it’s not fascinating.

The Celtics now have just one starter—center Al Horford—remaining from a 53-win team. Their longest-tenured player, 23-year-old Marcus Smart, was a first-round pick in 2014. They gave up nearly all they had left to land Irving. Thomas was the heart and soul of the team, an undersized scorer who dominated fourth quarters and had completed the unlikely journey from the final pick of the 2011 Draft to MVP candidate. Jae Crowder is a 27-year-old defensive stalwart on a bargain of a deal. Ante Žižić is a 20-year-old, 7-foot center with tremendous upside and even more tremendous accent marks. It was a lot to offer up even without the Nets pick—especially for someone who’d expressly said he wanted out.

But consider what the Celtics got back: Irving may have been drafted the same year as Thomas, but he’s three years younger and locked into a max deal (making $9 million less a year than Horford) with a player option in 2019. He’s six inches taller than Thomas as well, and, alongside Gordon Hayward, makes for quite the backcourt. And while Thomas’s fourth-quarter exploits are the stuff of legend, Irving has had his moments in the spotlight as well, including, well, the biggest shot in Cleveland Cavaliers history. If you’re ever going to go all-in for a single player, a 25-year-old four-time All-Star who’s excelled in three straight NBA Finals is the one to go for.

As for the Cavaliers, they got one hell of a return for someone who clearly wanted to be elsewhere. They had no leverage at all, yet received an All-Star still in his prime, a valuable building block in Crowder, and effectively a pair of first-round picks, seeing that Žižić has yet to make his NBA debut. While Thomas doesn’t exactly replace everything Kyrie is able to do, the addition of Crowder should enable LeBron to get a little more rest next season after leading the league in minutes played. And next summer, should James decide to decamp for the West along with all the other All-Stars, the Cavaliers will have yet another top pick. Or maybe the prospect of getting another top pick helps convince James to stay. It’s a win/win.

None of this is meant to sell IT short (er, sorry), since he’s become one hell of a player since he was drafted 60th overall out of Washington in 2011. He’s made multiple leaps in his career, from bench player to starter, from star to superstar. He averaged a career-high 28.9 ppg last year and finished fifth in MVP voting a year after averaging 22.2 ppg and making his first All-Star Game. The big question is what is that worth. With his Bird Rights travelling with him to Cleveland, he stands to receive a major payday when his deal expires next summer. (This season he’ll make a paltry $6.2 million.) It’s possible that Ainge just wasn’t ready to pay max money to an undersized crowd favorite—and maybe Cleveland won’t either. They have a year to make up their minds.

Who won the trade? That’s yet to be seen. They’ve gotta play the games first. But on the surface at least, this appears to be one of those rare deals where no one really loses. (Except for perhaps NBA2K, who put a Cavs-uniformed Kyrie on the cover of their latest game.) The rest of us, though, we all win. Because when the season starts on October 17th, guess who plays each other on TNT first? Even Charles Barkley might watch that game.

More from Complex

Young Fan Trolls Cleveland Crowd by Lifting Cavaliers Shirt to Reveal Steph Curry Jersey

Little kids are notorious for being front-runners. They're susceptible to whatever new trend is running through their elementary school, and they tend to cling to pro athletes who are wildly successful, even if they happen to play for a rival team.

One kid took that to the extreme during Cleveland's Game 4 win against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. With the in-arena crew looking for energetic Cavs fans to show on the Jumbotron, a young Warriors fan in hiding saw his moment to pounce.

I've heard of the idea of having a team in the opposing conference you root for, but come on little dude. Even for a kid, cheering for two teams that are about to face off in the Finals for a third straight time is weak. He can definitely take solace in his troll game, though—look at how mad the mom in the corner is after the Steph Curry jersey is revealed:

cavs mom is mad at warriors kid
Image via Twitter

Once Twitter became aware of the young troll, they slandered the poor little guy to Oakland and back.

As a sports fan, you have only a few defining choices to make in your life. You can be like most of us and stick with your local favorites through thick and thin, which ends in soul-crushing disappointment more often than not. Alternatively, you can be like this kid, who will probably grow up to be the guy who won't stop telling you about how the Yankees have won 27 championships, despite most of those titles being won long before he was born.

The child in question seems like he's having the time of his life, so maybe the front-running fans have this right after all. When one of his teams wins the title in a few weeks, I'm sure he won't care what a bunch of bitter people on Twitter had to say about his life choices. 

More from Complex

Where Can Carmelo Anthony Go?

It's going to be an interesting summer for Carmelo Anthony no matter what ends up happening to the Knicks star.

There's the potential of a divorce hanging over his head (check the gossip pages), and Melo knows Knicks team president Phil Jackson wants nothing to do with the future Hall of Famer and would gladly pack Melo's bags if he could find a taker for his services. The only problem is Melo owns a no-trade clause—which Jackson gladly gave him three summers ago—and a 15 percent trade kicker that means whatever team acquires him will have to pay more for his services than the Knicks currently are. 

So Melo's options are kind of limited, to say the least. But there are a few teams out there that could make a play for the dynamic scorer. Some are obvious and have been widely discussed. One is kind of under the radar. Four of them should be contenders next year. The other is a wasteland featuring epic amounts of dysfunction, paranoia, and a future void of success. 

While he hilariously gets to call the shots in the process, we can't wait for the full-blown melodrama—pun intended—to play out over the summer. So before all the wheelings and dealings start popping when free agency begins, familiarize yourself with the likeliest destinations for Carmelo Anthony's services next season.


  • New York Knicks

    Odds Melo Stays There: 2-5

    Melo isn’t going anywhere because Phil Jackson isn’t going to get shit for him, and Anthony isn’t going to waive his no-trade clause unless it’s for a contender. So, Melo for like a couple vets and a 15th man? No thanks. This is an unfortunate set of circumstances. Carmelo doesn’t deserve to be treated this way and Phil clearly could give two shits about how Melo feels with the way he’s handling the situation publicly. Phil has bigger fish to fry, like running Kristips Porzingis out of town.

    Why anyone would want to be a Knick in the year of our Lord 2017 is beyond me, but both Carmelo and Porzingawd wanna stay in the Rotten Apple. Leave it to the Knicks to somehow always stay relevant, whether good or bad; this circus is here to stay. James Dolan should do his job and fire Phil Jackson right now! I would have my bags packed if I were Melo. Who needs this? Anthony’s feverish need to win in New York and have a statue erected in his likeness could be the only reason. That or his brand. #StayMe7o —A.D. 

     

  • Los Angeles Clippers

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 5-1

    The easy thing for the Los Angeles Clippers to do would be this: re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to max deals, find a young, inexpensive shooter to replace an aging J.J. Redick, and go out and try it again. This would be a terrible idea. Yes, the Clippers have had a degree of success with their current lineup—if not a Western Conference Finals appearance—and yes, they could easily blame injuries for early exits like this year’s. But there comes a point when a core has run its course, and for the Clippers that time is now. The Griffin-Paul-DeAndre Jordan triumvirate has been together for seven seasons without as much a conference championship to show for it. And, at 32, Paul is entering the tail end of his prime. What he needs is a pure scorer who wants the ball in his hands at the end of games. Who he needs is Carmelo Anthony. —R.B. 

     

  • Washington Wizards

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 10-1

    The Wizards haven't heavily been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Anthony because it's a dicey cap situation trying to make Melo fit, but if you look at Washington's roster and remember one high-profile signing made in the past, maybe it's not so far-fetched. Once upon a time, Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld brought in Paul Pierce to provide veteran leadership and valuable scoring. The Pierce experiment, or whatever you want to call it, only lasted one season and it wasn't exactly a raging success—Washington lost to the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semis. At age 37, Pierce started 73 games, averaged 16.3 points per, and hit 38.9 percent of his threes. You don't think Melo could put up better numbers than that next year? You don't think a team that easily could have been in the Eastern Conference Finals this season could use another weapon like Carmelo to battle LeBron and Co.? Slot in Anthony with John Wall and Bradley Beal and that's easily one of the most potent threesomes in the league.

    Of course, there are hypotheticals. Would Melo and his ball-stopping ways screw up the Wizards? Would he whine about not getting enough shots with Wall serving as the focal point and Beal the clear No. 2 option? Would Phil Jackson be cool with Otto Porter and a pick in return for Melo? Does anybody on the Wizards roster even appeal to his antiquated tastes? We don't have the answers, but the more we think about it the more we think Washington makes a lot of sense for Melo. A.C. 


  • Boston Celtics

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 25-1

    The Celtics are going to lose the Eastern Conference Finals, and once they do Danny Ainge will have some big decisions to make like what to do in June's NBA Draft with the No. 1 pick and whether making a move for Carmelo Anthony is smart. We all know Boston isn't going to get over the LeBron James hump until they either get more scoring help or Bron slows down. With guys like Jaylen Brown, Markelle Fultz (when they draft him), and the Nets 2018 first-round pick, plus Coach of the Year candidate Brad Stevens, the Celtics have an extremely promising nucleus for the future.

    Yes, they have Isaiah Thomas for another season, but does he become expendable if Boston drafts a point guard? Would Ainge seriously entertain an offer if Phil Jackson wanted a haul in return? We know Jackson covets Jae Crowder, but would Ainge feel comfortable giving up one of his best defenders and something else for Melo's offense? From Anthony's perspective, #StayMe7o shouldn’t hesitate to waive his no-trade clause if Boston comes calling. —J.F. 

     

  • Cleveland Cavaliers

    Odds Melo Ends Up There: 45-1

    Because Carmelo and LeBron James are boys, the idea of the two talented scorers playing together will always be brought up. And when LeBron was complaining about not having enough talent around him earlier this season, and the relationship between Melo and Phil Jackson really started to break down, speculation was running rampant that Melo could very likely find himself in Cleveland. Well, that obviously didn't happen, but reports surfaced that LeBron wanted Melo—even if it meant sacrificing Kevin Love. Cavs management didn't want to pull the trigger at February's trade deadline, and with Love playing so well in the playoffs what makes you think they're suddenly going to change their mind this summer?

    Offense isn't the issue with the Cavs. We know that for sure. And do the Cavs really have any other pieces that would intrigue Jackson, because we know he wants nothing to do with Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith? The more likely scenario is that Dwyane Wade opts out in Chicago and teams back up with LeBron, leaving their boy Melo on the outside looking in at another run to the NBA Finals. Who needs enemies when you've got friends like that? —A.C. 

More from Complex