The burgeoning bromance between Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo is not coming to an end anytime soon. Until the Dallas Mavericks point guard firmly commits to a team that's not wearing purple and gold, Bryant is going to keep recruiting him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
"No way," the future Hall of Famer said when asked if he was done attempting to influence Rondo now that the point guard is no longer with the Boston Celtics, via Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. "I'm not done. I'm not stopping until he signs an extension."
This isn't the first we've heard of such desires, either.
"He [Bryant] and Rondo had breakfast together when the Lakers were in Boston early last month, and it was widely assumed that Bryant was doing a little early recruiting on the point guard who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer," Bulpett explained.
Ramona Shelburne reported for ESPN.com in the wake of the breakfast meeting that it was simply social, but Bryant seems to be doing his part to change that perception. After all, if he's not stopping his recruiting efforts, that means he had to start them at some point.
Did it begin back in 2013? That's when Bryant told ESPNBoston.com's Jackie MacMullan the following:
You don't want Rondo? Send him my way. I love everything about him. Everything. I love his attitude, I love his chippiness, his edge, his intellect, his know-it-allness. All of it. That's what makes championship players.
What guard have you seen at his size that will get you 18 assists, 17 boards and 20 points all in one game? That's unheard of. I love that kid. I always make a point of talking to him during All-Star [Weekend]. He's one of my favorites.
Well, they'd have far more chances to talk if they were actually on the same team.
Not only do their personalities mesh rather well, as both are fierce competitors who don't have time for players giving less than 100 percent, but their playing styles should work, too. Bryant, even at 36 years old, is still a gunner at heart, while Rondo would seemingly prefer to never attempt another shot, instead distributing the ball to one teammate after another and racking up the assists. The point guard's defensive proclivities will also help make up for the ball-watching habits of the current Laker.
Rondo, even though he's now in a new location, remains on track to become a free agent at the end of the year. And there's no telling what will happen when he hits the open market, as he'll surely be coveted by virtually every team in need of a high-quality floor general capable of making a two-way impact.
If the Mavericks win the 2015 NBA title, it would be rather difficult for Rondo to skip town. But what if Dallas flames out in the postseason and experiences an early exit, failing to navigate through the brutal gauntlet that is the Western Conference's playoff field?
Suddenly, playing next to Bryant might be quite a bit more appealing. The point guard who's so often surly and contained when speaking to reporters may not desire the market size of Los Angeles, but he's driven by winning and would surely appreciate going to a franchise with such a lengthy history of successful seasons.
And more than anything, he'd enjoy playing next to a competitor who's as fiercely intense about winning as he is. After all, he and Bryant both think of each other in the same way.
So now, it's time to strengthen these recruiting pitches. Anonymously ship some Connect Four sets to the locker rooms of the American Airlines Center. Have the official scorers be more lenient doling out assists when the Mavericks come to the Staples Center on April 12. Maybe even send someone new out on the recruiting trail.
"I told Goran Dragic on the court, 'You might be my teammate next year,'" Nick Young told Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News after the Lakers came up short against the Phoenix Suns on Jan. 19. "I'll talk to Marc [Gasol]. Me and him are cool. Kevin Love, I'll talk to him."
He might want to add Rondo to the list.