Ron Artest became one of the heroes of the clinching game that gave the Lakers its second straight NBA Championship.
Los Angeles topped the Boston Celtics 83-79 in a game that was ugly on the offensive side of the ball and tough as it comes on the defensive end.
Just saying Artest’s name in the same sentence as the word “heroes” is unexpected and against all odds, but the man scored 20, grabbed five boards and had five steals. Video posted below
On a night when Kobe Bryant had one of those games in which he couldn’t find his shot but tried anyway, Artest was the glue outside that held it all together. He was Mr. Outside with Pau Gasol playing his companion role of Mr. Inside.
Pau could have easily been chosen as the MVP of the series and on this most important of nights, he shed his “Pau Gasoft” monicker forever. A game seven stat line of 19 points, 18 rebounds and four assists is manly, clutch and worthy of a trophy.
But let’s get back to Mr. Artest. A guy who kept his emotions in check all season and never allowed himself to get giddy about his place on the Lakers, let it all hang out on Thursday night.
His first moment as a Laker, in front of media at his introductory press conference he knew he had to be different:
“I am not in a position to do anything to win, or I’ll get suspended. I try to be as smart as possible and as aggressive as possible without being ejected.” Ron Artest at his first Lakers press conference.
He thanked his shrink in his immediate post-game interview on the Staples Center floor. He mentioned her again when he met with the press. She helped him follow through on that day one intention. Lakers fans should send her a fruit basket, at the very least.
He fulfilled his promise to Kobe Bryant from 2008. Bursting into the Lakers locker room at the TD Bank North Garden in Boston after the Lakers lost the championship in soul crushing fashion, he found Kobe in the shower.
Then and there he sized up the situation and knew Kobe couldn’t win without someone else having his back.
Despite him still under contract for another team, Artest decided he was the man for the job and promised Kobe he would help him win a championship and soon. When the call went out for Ron during his free agency summer of 2009, he couldn’t believe his good fortune.
Artest signs with Lakers and fulfills a dream
Kobe needed every one of his teammates to fill in the gaps in his game on Thursday night and Artest was the man for the job. Despite his childlike exuberance and stream of conscious orations, the man made good on his pledge.
All the audio and video clips today will highlight Ron-Ron’s random thoughts, his inability to filter himself on a night of pure joy. Yeah, he’s crazy but not the kind that hurts a team’s chances to be the best they can.
It was acknowledged by coach Phil Jackson who called Artest the MVP of the final game. And for Artest, that makes it all worth while.