The Orlando Bubble was challenging for the players and the staff alike. The front offices of each team always faced the possibility of a player injuring himself out of the bubble, breaking a covid norm, or suddenly coming up with a valid reason to leave the setting. The 2020 champions, Los Angeles Lakers, faced their own set of mishaps.
First, the Lakers lost a key point guard in the name of Avery Bradley. Then, the news of Rajon Rondo getting down with the virus came up. It must’ve been daunting for a team to learn back-to-back news of losing its key point guards. However, the Lakers’ unique culture helped them bounce back from every such setback.
The Lakers and their player care
In a recent podcast, Lakers’ VP Rob Pelinka sat down to discuss at length his experiences with the champion team. He praised Jeanie Buss for extending the legacy that her father Jerry Buss laid down. Rob went on to explain how their team culture helped them overcome issues, citing Rajon Rondo’s example.
He expressed, “Rondo decides to come with us and get into the bubble, but within the first two or three days, we had a practice in the bubble and he breaks his hand and that’s a devastating moment. Especially you have been through quarantine, you feel like you’re on the runway.
“And so how do we in that moment partner with him in a player-centric way? And maybe some of my experience of being an agent help me understand what does a player needs in these moments, coz that’s what I did for 20 years. So it was working with him, how do we safely get a hand surgery on time of COVID, how do we safely rehab him outside the bubble and journey with him, how do we then get him back when he is close to being healed but knowing that he is going to be 10-14 days period quarantined in a room where you can’t treat him? A lot of pieces to put together.”
This explained the team’s DNA and the empathy they carry for their men in action.
How did all this help the team in the long run?
The Lakers had two options. They could have either lost their hopes on Rajon, who later developed a back injury, or could have covered his back. They chose the latter and remained positive around his return. This must’ve helped Rajon both physically and psychologically to give in all that he had got.
It was evident in his bubble performance from the conference semis on. He was a different force, truly the Playoff Rondo. The 34-YO was a perfect third option for the Lakers after LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The man averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebs, 6.6 assists, and 1.4 steal at 40% three-point accuracy. He proved to be a great playmaker, and his Game 6 heroics in the NBA Finals will forever be remembered.
This is how he gave back to the organization that showed faith in him and stood by him during the tough times.