As an NBA coach, what do you say to your players moments after winning a championship? It’s a question that most of us can only dream of answering but Lakers head coach Frank Vogel gave us all some insight, as he revealed an emotional conversation he had with Rajon Rondo moments after they won Game 6 to seal their title.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe had Vogel on his podcast, “The Lowe Post,” and asked him about any memorable conversations he had with players after the win and Vogel shared an intimate conversation he had with the point guard. Vogel explained that when the Lakers failed to sign Kawhi last summer, he called up several players on the Lakers, including Rondo, to ensure they were comfortable with their role and knew how much they meant to the team.
“I told him, at that point, that there’s maybe no coach in the NBA that’s a bigger fan of Rajon Rondo than I am,” Vogel said.
Vogel’s faith paid off, as Rondo was arguably the third most valuable player on Los Angeles in the playoffs, as he made 40% of his three-pointers and helped guide the offense any time LeBron was off the floor. Rondo made it clear to Vogel how much he appreciated his unequivocal endorsement before the season.
“He took a moment to just thank me for believing in him and, to me, that’s one of the best moments as a coach,” Vogel recalled. “When you show confidence and belief in someone and they reward you with great play and in this situation, leading to a championship? That’s just special and something I’ll never forget and above all else, that’s what you do this job for. For those types of moments.”
This type of conversation may seem obvious in hindsight, as a coach is hired to make the most of their players. But it’s easy to forget how much criticism Rondo faced for much of his time with the Lakers, so for Vogel to double down and let him know how much faith he had in him shows why he is one of the NBA’s great coaches and a deserving champion.