2010 NBA Champions: Ron Artest Goes From Demon To Redeemed

Demons have mystical powers; that comes with being a demon.

Two years ago, one of Kobe Bryant's demons strolled into the Lakers' sullen Game 6 post-blow-out-title-loss locker room. The demon caught up with Kobe literally as Kobe was exiting the shower.

After briefly surveying the disappointment and embarrassment on Kobe's face, the demon said something completely out of character. He told Kobe not to fret, for he would see to it that Kobe & the Lakers would never experience such a title loss again. Since the demon was the playing for the Sacramento Kings at the time, I'm sure that Kobe was bewildered.

The demon then attempted to get traded to the Lakers, but no deal could be worked out. Instead he was traded to the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2008. There he would cross paths with Kobe again—usually in elbow-throwing, pushing, shoving and trash-talking scenarios.

The demon's premonition came to initial fruition when the Lakers defeated the Orlando magic for the 2008-2009 title. But it had nothing to do with the demon.

But in the summer of 2009, both Trevor Ariza of the Lakers and the demon became free agents. The Lakers chose not to meet Ariza's salary demands, but they did meet the demon's modest demands and signed him as a Laker. Since Ariza had signed with Houston, the Rockets and Lakers, in essence, swapped players.

Pundits and fans across the land poo-poo'd the deal and immediately declared that the destruction of the Lakers was imminent, as surely the demon would disrupt their chemistry and couldn't possibly breathe air in the same locker room, much less on the same court, as Kobe.

The demon struggled offensively all season...most players do in their first exposure to Phil Jackson's mysterious and complicated Triangle offense. But the demon was brought in primarily as a defense force—one who could minimize the need for Kobe to bang with, chase arou...

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