Sit next to Rajon Rondo in the Boston Celtics locker room and receive a complimentary pair of sneakers.
Not a bad deal.
This season Rondo's lockermate Courtney Lee has already been given two pairs of Nikes by the Celtics starting point guard. It is an act of generosity Rondo also imparted on neighbor Keyon Dooling last year.
"When I first got here, I didn't have any shoes because my Nike guy was slipping," Lee explained to CSNNE.com. "So the first couple of days I wore a pair of his and I said, 'These are kind of comfortable.' Then my shoes came in and I was like, 'I'll stick with these for right now.'"
Rondo and Lee were among the players whose neon-toned sneakers stood out on the Barclays Center parquet Thursday night against the Brooklyn Nets. The pair wore the Nike Hyperfuse 2012 highs in a green, black and volt colorway combination. Jeff Green wore the same model in green and volt. (ht @KWAPT)
Lee has been on both the giving and receiving end of gifted sneakers during his career. He has his own sneakers now, but has continued to sport Rondo's during preseason play.
"These are the Air CRs," he joked. "The 'Courtney Rondo's.'"
BOSTON -- No matter what Isaiah Thomas and Dennis Schroder say, you get the feeling there’s still some bad blood between these two.
It goes back to the playoffs last season when Thomas slapped Schroder in the face and extended into their last meeting in which Schroder said Thomas spoke unkind words about his family in Atlanta (allegations that Thomas has repeatedly denied).
Following Atlanta’s shoot-around this morning, Schroder doubled down on his previous comments about Thomas having said things about his family.
“Everybody heard it, too,” Schroder said earlier today. “My family sat courtside too. Thabu (Sefolosha) heard some things; he was involved in that. It is what it is. We just try to compete and it’s getting heated in the game. It is what it is.”
I asked Thomas about the Schroder allegations following Boston’s 104-98 win at Detroit on Sunday night.
“Man, I’m past that. I’m not worried about that guy,” Thomas said. “Once he did that the last game, where he tried to damage my character, (saying I was) talking about his parents … I’m past that. Hopefully we can beat the Atlanta Hawks. I’m not even worried about him.”
Schroder speaks a similar tone about his approach to tonight’s game.
Boston (38-21) is looking to build off the win at Detroit which snapped a two-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, the Hawks (32-26) have lost three straight -- each defeat by at least 15 points -- and four of their last five.
In the last two losses, Schroder was suspended for one game because he missed practice following the All-Star break (he told the Hawks there was a visa mix-up) and was late arriving to the team bus for another so he began that game on the bench.
That’s why the beef that still exist between both players isn’t likely to be a major deal tonight; at least that’s what they want us to believe.
“We gotta win,” Schroder said. “We lost two in a row after All-Star break. I think the team is more important than a player on the other team. We just focus on winning this game and try to compete for 48 minutes.”
Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer will be the first to tell you that Schroder’s competitive drive is among the reasons the franchise hasn’t looked back on its decision to trade all-star Jeff Teague and give Schroder the keys to running the team.
He has certainly had his moments when that decision might be questioned, but for the most part he has shown the kind of growth individually that they were hoping for as a full-time starter.
This season he’s averaging career highs in scoring (17.4) and assists (6.3) per game.
However, Atlanta hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success this year that we’ve seen from them recently.
A fixture among the top two or three teams the past couple of years, they are currently fifth in the NBA, trailing East-leading Cleveland by 8.5 games and the No. 2 Celtics by 5.5 games.
And while Boston does have a nice cushion with 24 games left to play, they know a strong finish will position them to better control their postseason destiny -- something that hasn’t been the case the past couple of seasons in which Boston began the playoffs on the road as a lower seed.
As much as the need to win will be front and center tonight, all eyes will be on the two point guards.
But in the end, both understand that tonight’s game isn’t about which of them can out-perform the other.
“Dennis is a competitive guy, as is Isaiah,” Budenholzer said. “They both are more concerned about their teams and what’s best for their teams.”
The Eastern Conference playoff race, seemingly altered by the moves -- and non-moves (hello there, Celtics) -- of some of the contenders, just took another twist.
The Raptors, bolstered by the acquisition of Serge Ibaka and appearing poised to make a run toward the top of the standings after a come-from-behind victory over the Celtics on Friday, were hit with a body blow Monday when it was announced All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry needs surgery on his right wrist and may miss the remainder of the regular season.
ESPN reports Lowry is expected to be sidelined from four to eight weeks. Toronto hopes to have him back for the playoffs.
The Raptors are currently in fourth place in the conference at 35-24, trailing Cleveland (40-17), Boston (38-21) and Washington (34-23). Without Lowry, and facing a rough, six-of-their-next-seven-games-on-the-road stretch, Toronto may stop focusing on catching the Wizards and/or Celtics and focus on holding off Atlanta (32-26) in order to hold onto home-court in the first round.
Lowry, 30, who missed the last two games because of the injury, is averaging a career-best 22.8 points per game. He also is averaging 6.9 assists and 4.7 rebounds.