First and foremost, congrats LA! Repeat champions, and this time the title is well-deserved. I am not a Lakers fan by any means, but I can appreciate a solid team effort. No one can deny Kobe’s greatness; he’s in my top 10 list. But this post isn’t about the Lakers, or Kobe, but rather an odd character, Ron Artest, who played an undeniable supporting role for the Lakers.
Ron Artest’s career began with a relatively quiet stint the Bulls, as he was chosen 16th overall from St. John’s. Mr. Eccentric’s true legacy was not cemented until he was a few years into his time with the Pacers. On November 19, 2004, a good rivalry turned into an instant classic, but for all the wrong reasons. What we commonly refer to as the Pacers-Pistons brawl will forever weigh down whatever accomplishments Ron Artest attains. See below.
Let’s fast-forward to 3 teams and 5 seasons later. 5 year deal worth $33 mil. But with the Lakers? Who could’ve fathomed this? A year after the heated Western Conference Semifinals between the Lakers and Rockets (Artest’s previous team before being traded to LA), during which Artest was ejected because of a Game 3 flagrant on Pau Gasol. Most of the Lakers clearly hated Artest. Most fans of the game seemingly hated Artest. He was annoying, abrasive, and arrogant. But something changed over this past season, and it was NOT Artest. Although he is effortlessly annoying, his play on the court does not come without hard work.
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I wouldn’t take anything away from the man, because he has come a long way. He has worked hard to get to where he is today, without ever sacrificing his sentiment in any situation (I could see Artest sparking the Pacers-Pistons brawl with a new team today—imagine the Celtics-Lakers brawl). But give him some credit; he was an integral part of a Lakers’ repeat championship. Plus, if he has earned the respect of his teammates, he’s alright in my book.
Nonetheless, his antics will never leave his side. As promised to Doris Burke in his post-game interview (the same interview where Artest thanked his hood and shrink), here is Ron Artest’s new single, Champion (which he claims to have recorded last June!). Very appropriate title, Mr. Artest. Ladies and gentlemen, try to enjoy. It actually isn’t bad at all.
Reppin Queensbridge! What up Nas?!