Rajon Rondo denies spitting, says Chris Paul ‘trying to make up a story’ to be ‘good guy’
Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo said Tuesday that he never intentionally spit on Houston Rockets guard Chris Paul and felt that Paul fabricated a story that the NBA and media bought into.
Rondo was suspended three games and Paul two by the league for their roles in a brawl that broke out Saturday and saw both players throw punches. Paul claimed Rondo spit at him, which prompted him to point his finger in Rondo's face and ignite the melee.
Rondo contends that because he was wearing a mouthguard, he couldn't have deliberately spit at Paul.
"Of course, the NBA went with (Paul's) side because I got three games and he got two," Rondo told ESPN. "Everyone wants to believe Chris Paul is a good guy. They don't know he's a horrible teammate. They don't know how he treats people. Look at what he did last year when he was in LA; trying to get to the Clippers locker room. They don't want to believe he's capable of taunting and igniting an incident.
"Exasperating and spitting are two different things. (Paul) comes out and says I spit and the media sides with that. … It's bigger than basketball now, for (the media), for the league, that side over there trying to spin this like … this whole spitgate — trying to blame me without being accountable for anything (Paul) did to provoke the situation."
The NBA made its decisions on suspensions based off of official game footage, not Paul's word. Rondo still felt that Paul spun the story of what took place.
"I had a mouthpiece in my mouth and I exasperated because I was about to tell him to 'Get the (expletive) out of here.' Look at my body language," Rondo said of replayed footage of the incident. "My hands on my hips. I turn away for a second. Look at Eric (Gordon) and Melo (Carmelo Anthony) in the video. If they saw me spit, they would have turned their face up or something. They had no reaction.
"If I spit on you on purpose, I'm going to be ready for a man to swing on me. You ain't going to have my hands on my hip and my head look away at someone if I spit on them. … (Paul's version of the incident) makes no sense to me."
Right after the altercation, Paul told LeBron James as he was being restrained that he was spit on and then went over to tell television commentators. On Tuesday, Paul maintained his stance that he was deliberately spit on, telling reporters that he did his best to stay "as poised as possible" in the moment.
Lakers coach Luke Walton said Tuesday that he didn't think Rondo spit on Paul on purpose. On Monday, Lakers forward Brandon Ingram shouldered blame for instigating the entire incident. Ingram was suspended four games for pushing James Harden, confronting an official and returning to Rondo and Paul's fight to throw a punch.
Rondo said that he planned to remain quiet but ultimately felt compelled to stand up for himself.
"I was going to let it rest. I wasn't going to say much," he said. "But now I have kids and I teach my kids to speak up for themselves and don't let the world tell their story."
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