Sunday, May 10, 2009

Artest and Rethinking the Playoffs

I love the way that Ron Artest plays defense and it’s weird that he’s such a big guy who can move as fluidly as he can. I do not like his offensive game, such as it is, because he has no regard for what a good shot is. If he did, he wouldn’t launch contested threes or force simply horrible shots with time left on the shot clock and when he’s got other players on his team capable of actually hitting shots (really, anyone else on the team). But I love this anecdote that he told the other day when asked about rough play in the Houston, L.A. series:
In brushing off the idea that the Rockets-Lakers series had
gotten uncomfortably rough, Ron Artest even related a story about a playground
game that ended when someone broke a leg off a table and stabbed a

“It went right through his heart and he died right on the
court,” Artest said. “So I’m accustomed to playing basketball really
It turns out the story is true – although it happened at a
YMCA, the stabbing was in the back and Artest was only 12 at the time, so he
probably wasn’t in the game. The man who died, Lloyd Newton, was from Artest’s
hometown of Queens.

Here’s the story of the stabbing.

When I was watching the game where he got tossed for rushing Kobe and telling him that he was hitting the wrong person, I kept thinking, “I wonder if Ron is going to come back onto the court, put a 38 to Kobe’s temple while he’s shooting a free throw, and squeeze.” Admitedly, it’s highly unlikely that he’d do that or even attempt to do that, but not completely out of the realm of possibility, afterall, some dude stabbed Monica Seles during a tennis match.

Also, given what has transpired the last few days, I clearly need to rethink my prediction on the Lakers. If they make it out of this round against Houston, and I still think that they will. How in the world are they going to tussle against Denver? That team is playing great basketball and has highly effective role players (Nene, Birdman, Blake Griffin 1.0, Dahntay Jones) to go along with Melo, Chauncey, and the extraordinarily knuckleheaded but equally extraordinarily talented J.R. Smith. They’re playing good defense and will have several days to rest after possibly sweeping Dallas, while L.A. is at 2-2 with Houston. They way that they’re playing right now makes them honest-to-goodness title contenders.

Cleveland looks like a goddamn unstoppable train right now (well, at least LeBron does, both literally and figuratively) but a tough Denver team would by no means be an easy out. If given the option, I’d bet that Cleveland would rather face L.A. than Denver because L.A. does not have anywhere near the thuggish ruggish persona that Denver is strutting right now, and it doesn’t look like an act. L.A. for as talented as they are, still lack any sort of pimp slap mentality. I love Lamar Odom, but I wouldn’t fear him. Kenyon Martin on the other hand would make me soil myself and I’d also be deathly afraid to catch anything from Birdman (e.g. avian flu or just the clap). Plus, add the unreal hostile environment that Kobe will face in Denver and it’s going to be a damn tough series for L.A. if they get there. By the way, that Kobe-the-Rapist thing could go one of two ways. One: he’ll feed off of the negative energy and shut the crowd up by scoring at will and defending like a mother bear. Two: he’ll force everything in order to shut the crowd up but completely shoot his team out of the game while getting pissed at his team at the same time. I’d bet we get to see both sides with scenario two happening first, then scenario one happening at least once.

While I’m not an L.A. fan by any stretch I’d much rather see them face Denver than Houston, so here’s hoping that happens.

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