The Odyssey of The TruWarrier

As unfair as it was to Ron, the only way the “trade” was ever going to be seen as a success was if the Lakers repeated. It’s hard enough to win a championship in this league, let alone win two back-to-back, but that’s what it was. And in the ides of March, with the Lakers looking sluggish before the play-offs, many began to re-open the Artest/Ariza debate. Bill Plaschke, the famous whiner for the Los Angeles Time, had this to say in a March tear session:

Ron Artest is barely raising an eyebrow. He hasn’t figured out the flow of the Lakers offense this season, he has sometimes seemed a step slow on defense, and he’s made little impact on the team’s toughness.

In a move engineered by the Buss family last summer, Artest was signed here from the Houston Rockets to replace Ariza, who then signed with Houston, after balking at the Lakers’ contract offer.

It is a move that some Lakers folks would now take back. It was a move that many of us thought should never have happened in the first place.

Kobe Bryant has traditionally hated teammates that couldn’t grasp the Triangle and messed up his precious spacing… something that Artest has done plenty of this season. But, Kobe calls Artest “one of his favorite teammates.” Why? Probably because Artest would walk through hell, fire, and brimstone to achieve victory for his team. I watched a lot of Lakers games this year, and not once, did I ever think “Ron Artest looks like he doesn’t give a damn tonight.” Not once. He was always out there working his backside off, whether it was against the Cleveland Cavaliers or the New Jersey Nets.

Because of Artest’s baggage and his perception, many laughed at the idea of Artest learning to play in a complimentary role. Artest has not only done that, but he has embraced it. He may be a little more out there than Ariza ever was, but he’s a more diverse player on the court, and along with Kobe Bryant, helps form the toughest perimeter defensive tandem in the league. I was never particularly good at handling a basketball, so I primarily always focused on defense, and as a fan of defense in general, it has been a thing of beauty watching those two scrap on a nightly basis. Artest has played with heart during every second he has worn the Forum Blue and Gold, and as fans, that’s all we can ask from our players.
Next: Making a difference…

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