Rondo was contrite but not overly apologetic Thursday afternoon as he answered questions for the first time since the incident. It was pushing and shoving by Rondo and Nets forward Kris Humphries that set off a fight between players from both teams with 29.5 seconds remaining in the first half of Wednesday's game. Rondo said he ran over to Humphries to express his displeasure for what he thought was a hard foul on teammate Garnett.
"I thought the play on Kevin was a malicious play," said Rondo. "I got hurt last summer on a similar play like that, a guy going up in the air defenseless, on his way down.
"I don't think I did anything dirty. I didn't try to start a riot. I don't think it's more than just a pushing war that started."
While Rondo did not apologize for his actions, he did express some regret that he won't be available for his team's next game.
"I know I have to be out there for my teammates, that's the only thing about it," said Rondo. "But I was sticking up for my teammates. I'm not trying to start a fight. I'm not trying to be a bully."
This is Rondo's third suspension in 10 months. Most recently, he was suspended for Game 2 of a 2012 playoff series against the Hawks for bumping official Marc Davis. He was suspended two games for throwing a ball at another official on Feb. 19. On Thursday, he tried to differentiate between the incidents.
"Yesterday's actions were completely different from everything, I believe," he said.
Knowing he needed to speak to reporters or face a fine, Rondo sat around patiently while a scrum of reporters interviewed Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Leandro Barbosa, Courtney Lee, and Jason Terry will share the ballhandling duties in Rondo's absence.