Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest: Exuding Dominance on Both Sides of the Ball

When the Los Angeles Lakers were blown out in Game Six of the 2008 NBA Finals by the Boston Celtics, Sacramento Kings forward Ron Artest made his way to the visitor's locker room to console long time friend Lamar Odom.

While Artest was in the Lakers' locker room he reportedly told Kobe Bryant that he would love the opportunity to help Bryant and the Lakers attempt to win a championship the following season.

Artest had just witnessed the Lakers completely taken out of their element by the Celtics, who forced Los Angeles to abandon the safe confines of their precision-based game.

The Lakers were a very good team in 2007-08, but they had several weaknesses and none was more glaring than the lack of a strong, physical presence.

The acquisition of Pau Gasol earlier in the season had made the Lakers prime contenders to win the NBA championship, but the Celtics sniffed out their biggest flaw and ruthlessly exposed it.

In 2008 Los Angeles was battered, bruised, and beaten on the way to an embarrassing 40 point loss in the last game of the Finals, and their main focus in the offseason was to get mentally and physically tougher.

The paths of Bryant and Artest would cross again in the 2009 playoffs when Artest's Houston Rockets pushed the Lakers to the brink of elimination, losing in seven games to the eventual champion Lakers.

During that series Bryant and Artest had a memorable confrontation which began with Bryant swinging a wild elbow in Artest's direction, and ended with Artest the beneficiary of a technical foul.

From both players' body language during the exchange it would seem that a little bad blood existed between them, but actually the incident may have just been a sign of mutual respect.

When Artest joined the Lakers in the 2009 offseason the move was lauded by Bryant, and considering the importance Artest played in ...

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