The NBA suspended Celtics all-star point guard Rajon Rondo on Monday for one game without pay for making contact with an official. Rondo will miss Game 2 of the Eastern Conference playoff series with the Hawks Tuesday. It is the second suspension for Rondo this season for his conduct concerning an official.
Rondo bumped referee Marc Davis in the final minute of the Celtics’ Game 1 loss to the Hawks Sunday after being assessed a technical foul for arguing a call. He was subsequently given a second technical and ejected. Rondo was upset because officials called teammate Brandon Bass for a foul, instead of awarding a jump ball, during a scrum for a loose ball with Hawks forward Josh Smith.
“It’s part of the package with our team,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Monday prior to be informed of the ruling. “We are a volatile team in a lot of ways. Rondo is an emotional player. You know the old saying, I would rather kindle a fire than start one. I like his fire and sometimes he burns you. I like the fire that he has. Someone asked, why was he involved [in arguing the call]. Because he is into the game. He is a fighter for his team. You didn’t want him to go that far, obviously. It’s just who he is. It’s also what makes him great. It’s that fine line that you have to walk and every once in a while he crosses it.”
Rondo and Rivers said the contact with Davis was unintentional and that his momentum carried him into the official. Teammate Paul Pierce called the contact “real minor.” However, league rules are clear on what is acceptable.
“We have a hard and fast rule, unless someone trips you and sends you into him, you don’t touch a referee,” NBA commissioner David Stern told ESPN radio prior to the announcement of the suspension.
The Celtics will now have to play without Rondo, who had 20 points and 11 assists in the series-opening loss to the Hawks.