Kobe Bryant calls Rajon Rondo an "A--Hole", which is the nicest thing he has ever said

It is no secret that Kobe Bryant is a fan of Rajon Rondo. In an interview that Kobe did with Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston last year, Kobe was adamant about just how highly he regarded Rondo's game.

You don't want Rondo? Send him my way," Kobe declared. "I love everything about him. Everything. I love his attitude, I love his chippiness, his edge, his intellect, his know-it-allness. All of it. That's what makes championship players.

"What guard have you seen at his size that will get you 18 assists, 17 boards and 20 points all in one game? That's unheard of. I love that kid. I always make a point of talking to him during All-Star [Weekend]. He's one of my favorites."

Making it to Kobe Bryant's favorite list is no easy task. In Bryant's eyes, there is him and then there is everyone else. In a league that is fueled by rivalries and career long competitions, Bryant sees himself as peerless.

At this point my rivals, in terms of what I have left to accomplish in my career, (left the game) when Magic (Johnson) and Michael (Jordan) retired in '98," Bryant said, referring to the second of Jordan's three retirements that came after he won his sixth and final championship with the Chicago Bulls. "That's it. In terms of what I'm looking to accomplish, that's about it."

No one is pushing Kobe, because Kobe gets his game up for everybody. His game and competitive nature is the living embodiment of, "If you come at the king, you best not miss."

Last night, on his return to the NBA after nearly a year on the shelf recovering from a torn ACL, Rajon Rondo was paid two of the highest compliments an NBA player can be paid. He was named the Captain of the Boston Celtics- just the 15th in team history- and Kobe Bryant called him an asshole.

No matter what you think of Kobe Bryant as a basketball player, the one part of his game you cannot knock is his ability to talk smack. It's cold blooded. My favorite example of Kobe Bryant just being MEAN involves another guy Celtics Nation has taken issue with in recent history, Ray Allen.

At a time when Kobe was already catching wreck for allegedly orchestrating the 2004 departures of Shaq and Phil Jackson, Ray poured even more gas on the fire after a preseason game in which Kobe scored 35 points: “Is his attitude going to allow him to take a back seat and let Lamar Odom shine and let Caron Butler have his nights and bring those big guys along with him?” Ray asked. Asked for a response, Kobe sniped, “Don’t put me and [Allen] in the same sentence.”

Kobe has been playing professional basketball at the highest level for the same franchise for almost 20 years. He says the closest thing to a peer he has was Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. I'm pretty sure that being called an asshole by Kobe Bryant is the tamest insult in the world considering the source.

This was no insult being hurled towards the Celtics returning All-Star point guard. "An asshole like me," a statement in which Kobe groups Rondo with himself, is the highest compliment Kobe Bryant is willing to dish out.

Not to be outshined, Rajon Rondo responded the only way you knew he would.

Despite the loss to the Lakers, I would imagine that Rondo must have been riding pretty high last night. Bestowed the honor of being named Captain of the Boston Celtics, standing ovations after every point, and one of the greatest of all time grouping Rondo in the same competitive class as himself.

All in all- that is a pretty solid night.

Welcome back, Captain.

Follow Padraic O'Connor on Twitter @padraic_oconnor

Sources: Lakerground.net Dave McMenimen, ESPN LA Jackie MacMullan, ESPN Boston