Thursday, June 3, 2010
There are actually a lot of similarites between the championship, Michael Jordan-lead Bull and the current Los Angeles Lakers. They are both lead by determined, elite superstars in Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. They both have the best "second best" player and compliment to them in Scottie Pippen and Pau Gasol. Even their head coaches are extremely similiar. When people think of the Chicago Bulls they of course think of His Airness Michael Jordan. They think the incredible, one of a kind legacy they left behind. But many also remember the erratic Dennis Rodman. And now the Lakers have their own version of him as well in Ron Artest.
Enter Ron Artest. Artest, in my opinion, is the best defender of out generation, even above players like lock-down Bruce Bowen and multiple defensive player of the year Ben Wallace. The Lakers signed Artest this offseason instead of signing Trevor Ariza, who did an amazing job last year and was a major part of the championshup team. You may remember his two clutch steals against the Denver Nuggets to seal the game in two of the Lakers wins against them. So their must have been a reason that they signed Artest instead of Ariza. Artest is a great player, in his prime he averaged around twenty points and can shut down the opposing team's best player. And the Laker's needed someone like that in the playoffs when they were likely to go up against players like Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce and Vince Carter. He also can be an offensive threat, in these playoffs alone he has shown sparks of a great shooter. He is a great set shooter from 3 point land.
Sound too good to be true? Well Artest does come at a price. Much like Dennis Rodman, Artest has a huge attitude. Artest has gotten many technicals fouls and holds the record for longest number of games suspended for going into the stand to fight with fans. He also has had many different and crazy hairstyles, including shaving the Lakers symbol into the back of his head and writing defense in his head in three different languages. His current number isn't his birthday or anything like that, but the number of weeks Michael Jackson's Thriller album was number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
But the Lakers are really going to need Artest in this one. He has the privilege of guarding the Celtic's best player and the 2008 finals MVP Paul Pierce, who has averaged 19.1 points in the playoffs this year and recently has stepped up his game and scoring average to 24.3 in the C's last series against the Orlando Magic. Now Artest needs to prove himself. To prove that it was the right choice signing him and not Ariza. To prove he is still an elite player and defender. His play in the finals could very well be the difference between the Lakers hanging up their 16th banner or the Celtics hanging up their 18th.