So I come back from sunny Samoa to find that all hell is breaking loose in the NBA pre-free agency season. Rasheed Wallace, a favourite of mine, is off to the Celtics, a decidedly non-favourite of mine. Trevor Ariza is, quite rightfully, cashing in his great post-season run and heading to the Rockets. Ben Wallace is leaving Chicago for the Pistons, and the whole league seems to be after Grant Hill. Players are going cheap.
It’s mid-level exceptions all over the place so teams that are over the cap and can afford to be are spending up on some coupon savings. But the weirdest and most exciting news is that Ron Artest, the craziest dude in the league, is moving to Los Angeles to join The Lake Show. One of the most intriguing teams in the league just got a whole heap more interesting.
Now, most people know Artest for jumping into the stands and punching a white dude from Detroit. If you haven’t seen it:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHZGfKYr3ik%5D
It’s weird looking back on it, but these nine minutes changed the NBA more than some/most Hall of Famers. These nine minutes are the reason players wear those stupid military style shirts that their stylist bought for them. These nine minutes are why NBA players don’t release rap singles anymore. These nine minutes are why there are so many flagrant fouls called these days. These nine minutes made the NBA whiter. David Stern shat his pants. What could be more threatening to middle America and corporate sponsors than a black star running into the stands to beat on a white fan? They said it was a disgrace and it was violence and it was hell freezeth over.
Artest was suspended for the rest of the year ad from hence forth he was some kind of Stephon Marbury strain of cancer. This is what Cedric THE Entertainer thought of it:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEbEY3-NDCA%5D
Artest might not be entirely at fault here but still, he is insane. He tried to pull down down Paul Pierce’s shorts fer God’s sake:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FD796H08J7w&feature=related%5D
So, Artest is insane and Kobe Bryant is insane – no need to discuss the myriad of ways Kobe will need serious therapy once his career is over. Lamar Odom is so insane that he looks and lives like he’s animated. I am barely exaggerating. He lives in some crazy surf Technicolored Disney World eating candy all day, smiling his face off. And Pau Gasol is questionable at best. When Pau Gasol is the most normal guy on a Championship-contending team, things are looking up for the NBA. I can understand people hating Kobe and I can understand hating Artest and this probably makes the Lakers the most love-em-or-hate-em team in a season of what is shaping up to be a powerhouse of love-em-or-hate-em teams (Wallace joining Garnett, Shaq joining LeBron, The Spurs just in general).
Artest is the bizarro Kobe. Watching them battle in the playoffs this year was like watching Kobe playing against a funhouse mirror, Artest distorting his every move. It is going to be something special watching these five guys try to figure it all out. Artest just could be to the Lakers what Rodman was to the 95-98 Chicago Bulls. With the big teams all pulling out all the stops in their grasp for the jewelry, I am counting down the days till next season.
Oh yeah, and there’s Artest’s tribute to MJ too:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJoMFiPF3mA%5D
While I am here, did everyone hear Lil’ Wayne’s (not so) new song Kobe Bryant? Not his best work, but it was topical two months ago and you don’t get that many non-political topical rap songs nowadays (until the whole MJ thing I guess).