Los Angeles Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo didn't sit by his teammates at the end of Wednesday night's game against the Denver Nuggets, but a courtside view of his team's 115-99 loss will be his only punishment.
ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported Thursday that Rondo won't be fined or disciplined and that Rondo met with Lakers president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka for an internal discussion of the poor external perception.
"I've done it [before]," Rondo told McMenamin. "I've sat everywhere but the bench more than 40 seconds. But I guess when things aren't going well you can kind of continue to make up stories. But I never thought of it as a big deal. ... I don't think I have to explain myself as far as my relationship with the team, the players and the coaches."
He posted additional comments on Instagram looking to deflect his actions by talking about LeBron James' accomplishment in passing Michael Jordan on the all-time scoring list:
During the ESPN broadcast, commentator Mark Jackson said Rondo's move proved the Lakers don't have a winning culture.
"That's unacceptable," he said. "Who's caring? Who's leading?"
After Wednesday night's loss, Rondo said he has sat away from teammates "maybe eight, 10 times this year" and doesn't understand why it's a big deal now, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk. However, the Lakers' 30-35 record and four-game losing streak have allowed for negative speculation about the team.
The Lakers' team chemistry has come under fire several times this season. Rumors were fueled Feb. 5 when a photo of James at the end of the bench by himself during a 42-point loss to the Indiana Pacers went viral.
Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times provided further perspective:
"The image in Indianapolis of James sitting next to a few empty seats on the bench showed Rondo in some fan seats as well. I spoke to Rondo about this a few weeks ago. He said he's done it before and just enjoys sitting there.
"The seats are usually occupied at Staples Center."
Like James, this is Rondo's first season as a Laker. Rondo was brought in to aid James in mentoring a primarily young, inexperienced squad.
Earlier this season, Rondo missed significant time from Nov. 17 to Jan. 24 with a broken hand. During his recovery, he acted as an unofficial assistant coach. If the Lakers were performing well and headed to the postseason, chances are narratives like that would be favored over where James or Rondo sits.
Being able to find an empty courtside seat at Staples Center is more damning than anything Rondo did.