Rajon Rondo says LeBron James was trying to outcoach Erik Spoelstra rather than beat……

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Rajon Rondo and LeBron James have two of the most advanced minds in basketball, so it’s no surprise to hear Rondo insinuate that James was trying to outcoach Erik Spoelstra in the 2020 NBA Finals instead of beat the Miami Heat players.

“This goes back to the bubble when me and Bron were in the bubble,” Rondo began. “We’re watching the game. I think it was Miami and Boston again. And we were sitting in the room watching the game, and like I said, it went down to the wire. So, Bron’s like, ‘If we get Miami, I got Spo, and if we get Boston, you got Brad [Stevens].’

“So that was kind of our mindset. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, we’re gonna beat the Heat, or we’re gonna beat the [Boston] Celtics.’ It was more so, if we can outcoach or outplay the coaches on that staff in particular, which two guys we felt that we knew pretty good, we were gonna win.”

The 2020 NBA Finals saw Rondo, James and the Lakers defeat Spoelstra and the Heat in six games. The 2020 Lakers steamrolled their way to an NBA title, getting through the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets in five games each before beating the Heat.

James and Spoelstra spent four seasons together on the Heat, winning two titles and making four straight NBA Finals appearances, so the 19-time All-Star was certainly familiar with lots of Miami’s schemes.

It seems like James was very motivated and on a mission to get the best of the Heat in that series. A little after Los Angeles won the 2020 title, former Lakers assistant coach Mike Penberthy revealed to Lakers Daily that James had demanded to be the only one to guard Heat star Jimmy Butler in Game 6 of the series. James and the Lakers wound up closing things out in that contest.

Naturally, the four-time champion won MVP honors for that series after recording 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game on 59.1 percent shooting from the field and 41.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

Rondo played his part for the team in the series by notching 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.0 steal nightly. He came off the bench in all six games but got 26.0 minutes per contest.

Since that series, the Lakers and Heat have enjoyed success but haven’t been able to reach the NBA mountaintop. Los Angeles lost in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, missed the 2022 playoffs and made it to the Western Conference Finals last season.

As for Miami, it got swept in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, lost in seven games in the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals and was defeated by the Nuggets in five games in the 2023 NBA Finals.

Perhaps James and Spoelstra will get another chance to face off against one another in the Finals this season. After all, the Lakers and Heat are among the expected contenders in their respective conferences.


Write A Comment