WALTHAM Rajon Rondo was at Celtics practice on Thursday, seemingly no different than he is at any other practice.
But this was no normal day for Rondo, not less than 24 hours after being ejected in the second quarter of a 95-83 loss to Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
Rondo will learn soon as to whether his actions will warrant additional punishment in the form of a suspension.
He spoke with league officials Thursday afternoon to tell his side of the incident involving him and Nets forward Kris Humphries, which eventually spilled into the front row full of fans.
When asked what his gut told him would be the ruling, Rondo responded, "You never know. It's out of my control. Whatever the consequences are, that's what they are."
In all likelihood, Rondo will be hit with a multiple-game suspension for his role in the incident, which came after Humphries fouled Kevin Garnett, who then took a hard spill to the floor.
Rondo, in an act of sticking up for his teammate, gave Humphries a two-handed push in the chest following Humphries fouling Kevin Garnett. Humphries retaliated as both players became tangled up along the baseline filled with fans, in front of the Celtics bench.
After the game, the game's lead official, James Capers, said Rondo was ejected from the game because he "initiated everything that proceeded after the foul. And when he and Humphries go into the stands, they are involved in a fight. Fighting is an automatic ejection."
In addition to Rondo, Humphries and Nets forward Gerald Wallace were ejected. (Wallace was whistled for a technical for his role in the incident and it was his second of the game, which is an automatic ejection.) Garnett was given a technical foul for his role in the incident as well.
Not surprisingly, Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn't believe Rondo should be suspended.
However, he does admit that Rondo going into the stands might be too much for the league's officiating czar, Stu Jackson, to look past.
"The only thing it would be is, they went into the stands, which you never want," Rivers said. "But there were no punches thrown or anything. And really when you see it, I thought Rondo was trying to get him away and Humphries kind of pulled Rondo into him and that's when everything started. I don't really believe Rondo went in there trying to fight. I don't think anyone did; it just escalated. And that's what happened."
While the league doesn't spell out specifically that it cracks down harder on players who have been suspended previously, there's no way they can totally ignore the fact that this would be Rondo's third suspension in less than a year -- an unusually high rate for any player.
Rondo said he's not worried about his past suspensions having any impact on Wednesday night's incident.
"Yesterday's action were completely different from the other two, I believe," Rondo said.
On Feb. 19 of this year, he was suspended for two games because he threw a basketball at an official. And during the Celtics' playoff series in April against the Atlanta Hawks, Rondo was suspended for Game 2 of that series after bumping official Marc Davis in Game 1.
While those transgressions all seem relatively minor in their scope, they speak to a concern that has hovered over this team for the past couple of years.
Is Rondo ready to be the leader of this team?
In what has been a season in which he has made significant strides in answering this question affirmatively, this latest incident once again brings his maturity into question.
No one questions Rondo's intent.
It was clear to anyone who saw the replay or was at the game, that he was trying to stick up for his teammate.
But the manner in which he went about doing it, well, that's a problem.
"Rondo . . . can't allow himself to be taken out of a game, and he did last night," Rivers said. "Again, it's a snap (decision); it's quick and it can happen to any of us."
If Rondo is suspended as expected, it will cost him more than 100,000 per game in lost wages.