Thanks Ron, non-stop hard work on defense!
O.C. Register: Lakers fans, thank Ron Artest.
Thank David Lee, Trevor Ariza’s agent, for misplaying his free-agent hand when his client would’ve rather returned for the money the Lakers then went and gave Artest.
Thank Jim Buss for, as he says, “maybe a little bit harder pushing toward Artest” than others in the Lakers’ organization.
Thank Kobe Bryant for embracing this oddball (“He’s one of my favorite teammates ever,” Bryant said) despite Artest’s inability to keep the triangle offense angled to help Bryant’s scoring.
The Lakers are done with Oklahoma City Thunder, the series finishing Friday night with the Thunder not even trying to get Kevin Durant the final shot because of how well Artest guarded him all series … and then Durant sprawling face-first to the floor in sadness upon seeing teammate Russell Westbrook miss.
In the same moment Durant went down because it was all over for him and his team, Artest bent down, too. Artest didn’t celebrate; he stooped over at the waist – as if finally realizing how much of himself he’d given up.
Utah did the Lakers a favor and knocked out budding rival Denver, meaning no Carmelo Anthony for Artest to guard next round. Neither San Antonio nor Phoenix has a formidable wing-scoring threat, either.
“I won’t play against anybody that tough,” Artest said late Friday night, his bruised left shoulder packed in ice, two more icepacks around his knees, his feet soaking in a bucket of more ice and water, the majority of his fingers mummified in tape from so many jams and sprains.
In other words, Artest just played his Western Conference championship series and won it. He won’t have to work this hard to earn his keep again until the Lakers face the other elite scorer in the league: Cleveland’s LeBron James.