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October 11, 2020

Rajon Rondo

Los Angeles Lakers

Game 6: Postgame

Los Angeles Lakers - 106, Miami Heat - 93

Q. Rob was describing a moment in a meeting between Game 5 and Game 6 where you said the team needs to be a defensive team first to win a championship. How did you realize that and what are you proud of in that aspect of your performance?

RAJON RONDO: It was attention to detail. We were locked in tonight, especially on the defensive end. We didn't make too many mistakes tonight and when we did, we quickly corrected it and defensively it was an all-five-guy effort. Like I said, the coaching and game plan was right on point, and we knew if we put it together for 48 minutes, we knew we would come out and have a defensive game like we did tonight.

Q. It's been 12 years since you did this. Can you discuss the road? You probably thought it would happen every year, but just that time, all the ups and downs, how do you reflect on that? What's going through your mind?

RAJON RONDO: I've been through a lot in my career. Everyone goes through a lot. You play the game this long, 14 years, and I had early success. I had a lot of great teammates early, great coaching staffs early, and I thought that's what the NBA was. And then obviously down the road, year 10, 11, things changed for me in my career. Every time going into training camp, you weren't expected to win a championship because of the teams I was on, so that was a different mindset coming into the season.

But to be able to get back to this, this season in particular, understanding that we did have a team to compete for a championship from day one, and to be able to come full circle an entire year later, we reached our goal and our dream. So it's been a long time for me. Last time I was in this situation, obviously the result didn't turn out as well.

To be able to come back and redeem myself and play a big part in this championship is definitely a hell of a feeling and something I'll remember for the rest of my life. And me also being able to experience it with my son here. I'm very blessed to do it while he's able to understand at nine years old, soon to turn nine, that his dad is a champ and he was able to witness it.

12 years ago, he wasn't born yet, so for him to be here and my daughter at home watching, it's definitely a surreal feeling.

Q. This team has some veterans but also young players. What role did the veterans play in terms of helping this team be mentally strong, especially when it came to the bubble circumstances?

RAJON RONDO: Leading by example. Not too much as far as what we said. It was how we did it. Every day with the consistency as far as taking care of your body, you know, getting lifts in every day, doing things that you don't want to do or what it takes to become a champion or to become a veteran or a great player in this league.

So we didn't really do it too much vocally. When they asked questions, we obviously gave them the answers, but like I said, me and myself personally, I know LeBron does it. It's just discipline and understanding what it takes to stay in this game for a long time and taking care of your body and getting to the top. It takes discipline and hard work.

Q. I saw you out on the court surrounded by confetti with your son. We've seen him before asking you if you're going to be on SportsCenter tonight. How much does he understand how big of a moment this is?

RAJON RONDO: He definitely understands, and two nights ago, I definitely feel like I let him down. He was pretty pissed that we didn't finish the job two nights ago, and I didn't sleep well that night. He didn't sleep well.

So for him to understand the magnitude of what we're in and being a part of it. I think the first question he asked when we won, he was like "When do I get my ring?" I'm extremely excited to be able to get his size, his ring size and order him one, as well. It's definitely a surreal moment. He definitely understands what's going on, and like I said, I'm a proud dad.

Q. As a team you've been very open about wanting to win this championship to pay tribute to Kobe, and you competed against him at the highest level. What does it mean to have succeeded with that and also to have had his respect because he talked openly about the respect he had for you?

RAJON RONDO: Obviously winning for Kobe has been in my mind for a while. Just the respect he's given me throughout my career and understanding -- I've watched him for so many years and tried to mimic how he controls the game. He does his with scoring, but if you look at every other aspect of his game, its elite as well. He's a basketball savant, was a basketball savant, one of the greatest minds I've ever played with. And being on the court with him and competing at a high level, his grit, his grind, the way he played every possession was definitely an honor to play against a guy like that and helped me elevate my game at a young age.

I got to compete against Kobe Bryant when I was 21. So his game and his legacy speaks for itself. Me being a kid from Louisville, Kentucky to be able to compete with Kobe two years into the league, understand and learn so much from him by watching his film and by studying him, it's definitely an honor. And to come full circle to win in his honor, his daughter's honor, unbelievable season that we've had. And to be able to prevail and stay focused and continue to get the job done, I know something, he's definitely smiling down on us. And we're able to fulfill our dream and succeed with the championship.

Q. You've now won a title both in this kind of weird unusual bubble environment and in kind of more of a normal environment. Which one was harder and what are the differences, the road to get to each one of them?

RAJON RONDO: This one, by far, is the hardest one. Family is everything, and not being able to see your family for so long, it takes a toll on you mentally. Like I said, for us, we're not eating normal food as far as our normal routine regiments. I didn't eat today, so that was taking a toll on the mind and the body. Proper rest, not sleeping in your proper beds, on a certain schedule. So it was a lot different. People might say travel was different or no fans, but mentally this one was tough. Like I said, being here for a hundred days, I was fortunate -- well, I wasn't fortunate, I had an injury so I went home for a while. But the time I did spend here, the best thing about it was just being with my teammates every day and winning.

So it was an experience, once-in-a-lifetime hopefully, get things back to normal. But other than that, I wouldn't trade it for nothing. It was all worth it at the end of the day, and we all came here for a mission and we accomplished it. Regardless of how bad people may think it was, or it was actually, but we got W, we got the chip, you can't take it from us. We definitely earned it.

Q. Physically, you tore your ACL, and that put you back. Can you talk about what you were able to do physically to keep at this high level? Obviously you get older and that happens -- but you had to go through some stuff physically obviously with your hands, also, your wrists, and also the knee.

RAJON RONDO: Keep believing in God. Keep believing in my family and having a great supporting cast, and just having the discipline and work ethic to stay through it, stay through the tough times. My mentor, Doug Bibby always told me, cream rises to the top. Like I said, it's been a rocky last couple seasons. We didn't get to the playoffs last year. A couple years ago, a teammate got hurt and exited early in the playoffs.

So just staying the course, never too high, never too low and continuing to grind. I pride myself on how hard I work. People that know me know how dedicated I am to the game, and my mind and my body, the work I put in in the off-season, and it's definitely a blessing to be able to come out and reap the benefits of what I've been working for for so long.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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