Ron Artest’s Somewhat Amusing Ballad

The Lakers opened their title defense in October 2010 with almost their entire Championship roster still intact. There was, however, one glaring difference.

Gone was Trevor Ariza, the sinewy hero of the Western Conference Finals and humble yeoman. In his place stood the 6'7" 260 lbs. hulking frame of Ron Artest.

Yes, the instigator of one of the worst brawls in NBA history had found his way to the Purple and Gold. Lakers haters cackled in glee.

Nobody has ever questioned Ron Artest's talent. From strictly a talent standpoint, Ron Artest dwarfed the budding Trevor Ariza. But Ron was seen as a head-case.

Many in the media couldn't believe that the Lakers had gambled their championship chemistry on an enigma like Ron Artest. And many expected the Ron Artest experiment to go down in flames.

Surely, Ron Artest, in a city like Los Angeles, would be a combustible combination. What were the Lakers thinking? Shipping out Ariza—a quiet, humble, whatever-the-team needs guy—for a malcontent like Ron Artest? It was a gamble of the highest stakes.

Clearly, the Lakers had their eyes set on the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James when they brought in Artest.

For all of Ariza's strengths, and there are many, he struggled against stronger forwards that could match his speed. Artest wouldn't have that problem.

A former NBA Defensive Player of the Year—Artest was seen as somewhat of a pit bull on the perimeter. And on a team filled with offensive weapons already, all Artest would only have to concentrate on shutting down his man and hitting open shots.

Seven months later, the Lakers stand four victories away from acquiring their 16th NBA Championship. Artest, while he has struggled with his shot (and shot selection) at times this year, has been a model teammate. Kobe Bryant, in the past, struggled with teammates who failed to pick-up the Triangle offens...

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