NBA Fanhouse: Ron Artest has never won an NBA title, but he knows championship- level basketball when he sees it.
And that, the Lakers small forward said on Wednesday, is precisely what he saw in his team’s dominating Game 5 win over Oklahoma City at the Staples Center. But before the Lakers headed back to the Ford Center for Friday night’s chance to close out their first round series, the 11-year veteran who so desperately wants his first ring wondered why that sort of performance has been the exception and not the rule.
His best guess: champions are always prone to becoming too complacent.
“I guess there were times when (Michael) Jordan and (his Chicago teams) won back-to-backs (titles) and three-peats, when they won 69 games one year, then won 59 and 55 (games), (and) I guess you’ve (won) so much and you’re just waiting for the big picture (of the playoffs),” said Artest, who signed a five-year deal with the Lakers last summer to take part in this very pursuit. “But a guy like me, I don’t have much (in the way of championships) so I want to play every day hard.'”
Which is something he wishes the Lakers had done more often this season.
“We were cruising through the whole Western Conference this year, and we stayed in cruise mode,” Artest said. “And then at the end of the season, you saw that it hurt us, and then it led into the playoffs a little bit. We stayed in cruise mode. We thought we were something that we’re not. We thought we were hot, just hot stuff, but we weren’t. But we are if we play the right way.”