Ron-Ron Does L.A.

PACERS CLIPPERS

Okay Los Angeles, first it was David Beckham, then Manny Ramirez, and now you’ve invited none other than NBA Fight Night King Ron Artest to join the traffic congestion on I-405. The Lakers have signed Ron Artest to a five year deal where Artest will play small-forward and wear number 37, in honor of Michael Jackson.  Everybody who is anybody in sports knows Ron Artest for his role in the infamous Pacers-Pistons basketbrawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004, but that is neither here nor there.

The real question is, can Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest coexist? How will Artest’s antics disrupt the peaceful flow of Laker basketball? Can the Zen Master spiritually calm the always unsettled Artest?  The Lakers have more questions than answers.

Artest, ever since he became a member of the association, has been a disruptive and impulsive player. Consider this; prior to his rookie season with the Bulls, Artest applied for a job at Circuit City and listed NBA Player as his prior job. He also listed Bulls general manager Jerry Krause as a reference- all so he could take advantage of a discount on home electronics after he inked his fat contract days later.

Halfway through the 2003 season Artest had already picked up his sixth flagrant foul and thus garnered the mandatory suspension. Later that year Artest threatened to kill teammate Bonzi Wells if he didn’t resign with the Kings saying, “Unless he wants to die, he’s gotta stay with the Kings.”

Artest also presides over a fledgling hip-hop empire poised to give Jay-Z and his Def-Jam label a fit come Grammy time. Artest dropped this track in 2005 after spending most of the 2004 season suspended for his role in The Malice at the Palace.

“David Stern! Damn, David Stern. I gotta teach you ‘bout the ghetto, there’s some things you should learn.”

Perhaps Jay-Z would like to respond? Perhaps not.

The real question here is about basketball though, and one huge question still looms large. Can Kobe Bryant repeat with Ron-Ron by his side? Artest is impulsive and distracting; he’s also a brilliant defender and a skilled offensive player. Coming off a season where he averaged 17.2 points per game with the Rockets, he would appear to be a scoring upgrade over ex-Bruin Trevor Ariza. Ariza was a perfect fit for the Lakers though because he knew his role and never took bad shots. If anything, he played above his talent level during the playoffs; scorching the Magic with his outside shooting. Ariza also played excellent defense, locking down on Rashard Lewis, Michael Pietrus, Courtney Lee, and other Orlando wing players.

Artest is capable of playing better defense that Ariza: he has been All-NBA Defensive team multiple times and even was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. Artest is one of the few lockdown defenders of this era, and the Lakers need defense.

In many ways, Ron Artest is an upgrade for L.A. On the other hand, the Lakers are now responsible for his baggage wherever they go. Kobe Bryant and other Laker veterans are not going to appreciate Artest taking a day off to promote his rap career or missing practice to defend himself in a domestic violence case. In the end, Ron Artest could be the ticket to another NBA title, but in my mind, he is too much of a disruption and a distraction and no team needs that as they embark on the unenviable task of repeating as NBA Champions.

!Acerquense y vean! Una oportunidad única de ver a un perro con un cuchillo zumbando a un caballo con una pistola.

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