“Let’s Just Fight As Men”: Rajon Rondo Recalls Locker Room Boxing Match With Ray Allen During Boston Celtics’ Championship Run

Fractured relationships and chasing championships wasn’t the only reason Ray Allen basked in the glory of bouncing from the Boston Celtics as a member of the 2008 Championship “Big Three” with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami and defeat his former team en route to winning another championship in 2012-13. 

Apparently, Allen had a problem with several guys on the team, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo being among them. It’s not surprising that young Rondo’s abrasive attitude and approach to communicating didn’t mix with Allen’s veteran personality.

According to Rondo there was a lot of talking behind each other’s backs and bringing out the gloves and boxing was a great way to release the tension and get everybody back on the same page. 

Talking to Chandler Parsons and Lou Williams on FanDuel TV’s “Run It Back,” Rondo was asked if he and Allen threw on the gloves and fought to settle a feud they had at the time. 

Rondo denied they had a feud, but later admitted that there was tension and the two were not very complimentary about each other when talking to other people. 

Allen had problems with a couple of guys on that team and his rift with Rondo was one of the worst-kept secrets in the NBA. There were so many egos and strong personalities on that team. Let’s not forget Kendrick Perkins was a role player, and all he does now is talk and criticize his former peers every day. He’s a product of that mix of personalities and talent as well. And he wasn’t even one of the more outspoken personalities. 

That Boston Celtics team that won the franchise’s last championship 16 years ago was special. They took down Kobe Bryant in his prime. They had four players who are among the best to ever do it at their positions. For all the flak Doc Rivers gets for losing in the playoffs, he did a great job managing the possible explosion that was that Celtics team as it tried to move through the gantlet of Eastern Conference teams ready to contend for a title. 

“It wasn’t to settle a feud, but we damn sure put the gloves on,” Rondo said. “We were competitive in every facet of life. We always competed.”

Also, Rondo noted that he and Allen weren’t the only ones to throw fisticuffs that day. 

“Tony Allen and Big Baby put the gloves on. Big Baby set him down quickly. There were a few other matches as well.”

Lou Williams asked Rondo, “Who won y’all round?” 

Rondo, being old school, respected the code and didn’t talk about the intimate details of the fights. 

“I gotta let my peers tell you that,” he answered. “I can’t really talk about it. Although nowadays you can [break the code] and run it back. That’s what celebrities do now.” 

Rondo basically said there was too much talking going on behind the scenes. 

“It was all fun and games at the time. We love to compete,” Rondo said during a recent interview on FanDuel.com. “Gloves were brought in,” and, according to Rondo, “we were like F- it, let’s get it on. Because there was no point in talking about each other, behind each other’s back. Let’s just fight as men. But it got broken up pretty quickly because we were fighting. … Boxing in the weight room, and equipment got hit up a little bit. People got knocked back by that type of thing.”

Kevin Garnett confirmed on Stephen A. Smith’s podcast in November 2023 that there was tension within the ranks and it turned ugly when Allen left to go play for their archrivals at the time. 

“We were in a real life gang-banging league,” Garnett said. “When we were knee deep in the battle with Miami it was real. We were in a playoff series with these guys, and bro was already looking at cribs. I felt a way about that. … It took some time for me to get over that. Paul Pierce helped me get over that” 

“I took that so personal, ’cause of all the places you could have gone, you went to the one team that you knew was a real beef with us. … I wasn’t feeling it,” Garnett added.

Whatever went down during and after Allen’s time in Boston, the memories are fond for the fans because a long-awaited title was won. This Celtics team is trying to end a similar drought. 

Maybe that’s what these Boston Celtics need to do to get over that final hump as they prepare to face Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in the NBA Finals. Toss on the gloves go a few rounds, match up the players who don’t see eye to eye. 

One difference with these guys led by Joe Mazzulla is they seem to get along pretty well, and that era was pretty much the end of an era and culture. Most players of today aren’t even built like those guys from a social standpoint.

Rondo probably has plenty more stories that he’s holding close to the vest.

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