Is There A Tinge Of Doubt At The Moment ….. ?

Is There A Tinge Of Doubt At The Moment ….. ?

I don’t know that the Los Angeles Lakers’ fans should have some doubt at the moment as to the legitimacy of the team’s effort in making it to the Western Conference Finals . But I for one believe that their coach Phil Jackson is very much concerned but he’s not intent on showing it. This much I do believe, ‘this team’ is nowhere as good as the one, that won the 2009 NBA Finals in defeating the Orlando Magic with relative ease !

Los Angeles ,Ca,. Carlos Boozer (5) of the Utah Jazz has his shot challenged by Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 2, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers would go on to defeat the Utah Jazz 102-96 during the game. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein.............
Los Angeles ,Ca,. Carlos Boozer (5) of the Utah Jazz has his shot challenged by Kobe Bryant (24) of the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on April 2, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers would go on to defeat the Utah Jazz 102-96 during the game. photo appears courtesy of NBAE/Getty Images/ Andrew D Bernstein.............

One of the reasons why I state the team isn’t as good as last year’s victorious roster. Well the addition of Ron Artest to my mind has led to subtraction by addition ! There isn’t as much cohesiveness about the unit as last year’s ensemble. The loss of Trevor Ariza is far more than anyone within the Lakers’ front office , coaching staff or players would care to admit. They in essence sold their ‘soul to the Devil’ in obtaining Artest. And in return, there’s been little to show tangibly from the player in terms of his efforts. OK, so some will say that it takes time to acclimatize to new surroundings and a new cast of teammates. But given the fact that Artest is a seasoned veteran, rather than a rookie. What we’re now seeing from the player is a great deal of inconsistency and the mere fact that he’s become more of a liability to the team, rather than the asset that they’d hoped for. Ariza who signed with Artest’s former team the Houston Rocket , is having a rather solid season playing alongside Luis Scola , Aaron Brooks and a solid core of players that make up this Rocket’s team . And at the same time this Rick Adelman coached roster has played themselves into contention for a playoff berth .

Now there’s a great reason to show some cause for concern if you’re undoubted Lakers’ fan. Guard Kobe Bryant is playing injured (broken index finger-on his right hand and dislocated finger on the right) and once again it looks like the team’s center Andrew Bynum just can’t seem to stay fit long enough, to contribute with any great consistency to the team. And though they lead the conference and their division by a fairly wide margin. You get the feeling that another serious injury to any of the other front line players on the roster and the Lakers’ season could completely spiral out of control. The team’s bench has become their Achilles’ heel and anyone who believes that they have “the best bench” in the entire NBA is in need of treatment from Dr Drew Pinsky . Rehab anyone ?


Courtesy of Associated Press & Yahoo Sports


Lakers sign Bryant to 3-year extension

El Segundo , California (AP)—Kobe Bryant(notes) is staying with the Los Angeles Lakers for another three years.

The deal announced Friday will begin after next season. Bryant is making $23 million this season and is due to earn $24.8 million next season.

“It’s very rare to have a player play his entire career in one city, so I’m very excited,” he said after the Lakers beat Utah 106-92.

Bryant would earn $27.4 million in 2011-12, $30.2 million the following season and more than $32 million in his final year, when he would be 35.

“Good news,” coach Phil Jackson said. “I expected that Kobe would sign. It’s a good choice for him and the organization.”

The deal means the Lakers achieved two main objectives going into the season — signing Bryant and Pau Gasol(notes) to extensions.

“We were able to accomplish those goals, helping to keep the core of this team intact for the foreseeable future and in turn help to ensure the franchise’s continued success over the years to come,” General manager Mitch Kupchak said Friday on the team’s Web site.

Gasol signed earlier in the season.

The 31-year Bryant could have terminated the last two years of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent last July. He could have secured a new, longer deal if he had opted out, but he wouldn’t have necessarily made more money.

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Now we can all attest to the fact this Lakers’ team has been the best within their conference by a convincingly wide margin. But at the same time as with any team they will have their struggles when faced with a certain amount of adversity. And that is to be expected because that is what delineates and separates the good teams from the bad. The bad teams don’t know how to adapt and overcome adversity. The good teams always tend to find a way and that all comes down the experience of the players and that of the coaching staff in place. And in Phil Jackson and his staff where’s ably abetted by Frank Hamblen , Brian Shaw and Jim Cleamons as his chief subordinates. Jackson could not have found anyone better to have assisted him in the task. The game of basketball isn’t merely about what goes on , on the court but it’s also about what the coaches instill into the heads of the players in terms of their competitiveness and playing abilities. This is where the advantage lies with the Lakers ahead of the rest of NBA. Phil Jackson is as astute a coach as there is , involved in any team sport. He ranks up there alongside the likes of Lombardi , Auerbach , Bowman and John Wooden . But today where one’s every move is judged and singled out by every tv analyst , pundit , columnist and fan out there. There’s got to be a time where the coach himself has to be wondering whether or not it’s all worth it. And for Jackson , that answer is probably yes. He’s the flag bearer by which every NBA coach is now judged whether they like it or not. Jackson’s success proves that point .

As it now stands I do expect the Lakers to make it to the Western Conference Finals. But in all honesty their recent form (5-5) has me rethinking whether not they’ll be the conference representatives in the upcoming NBA Finals. This is much is true , without a completely healthy Bynum and Bryant this team’s chances of repeating as NBA champions is greatly diminished. And without Bryant as its figure head and vocal leader on and off the court they become nothing more than an average team, at best ! And average teams simply no longer win NBA championships in this day and age. If that were the case then it’d show mediocre the brand and product had become in the NBA. And that’s not something that either David Stern or the NBA hierarchy would like to see at this particular moment in time. Especially not with several teams around the league struggling financially , simply to stay afloat.

When the Lakers or Boston Celtics are riding high then it makes for a better NBA brand and product out there for the consumer to part-take of and enjoy. And though we’ve seen the rise of the LeBron James’ led Cleveland Cavaliers . Until James and his teammates are winning championships on a regular basise or are perennial contenders. Then he’ll just be seen as another ‘prodigy’ and not much else. I think that’s pretty fair to say about LeBron at this juncture don’t you think ?

Alan Parkins aka tophatal

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Simply Red feat’g on lead vocals Mick Hucknall …….. ‘Holding Back The Years’

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Reasons why Phil Jackson is thankful . He gets to ‘nail’
the boss’ daughter Jeanie Buss .

Yo Lakers’ Fans Boo All You Want ’cause Once Kobe’s Gone The Lights’ll Go Out At The Staples Center …………….

They try to makes themselves out to be sophisticated fans and knowledgeable about their team. And of course, courtside you’ll always find the likes of Dyan Cannon and Jack Nicholson showing their unbridled passion and support for the Los Angeles Lakers.Granted, court side at the Staples Center is the place to be seen, when your team is winning on a consistent basis. And especially when the game’s best player is now happy with his lot. Kobe Bryant is atop of his game and the basketball world and it can’t be taken away from him.Not unless, he has a mindset to relinquish those accolades festooned upon him ? And at this juncture , I think that’s unlikely to happen.

Head Coach Phil Jackson and Ron Artest  of the Los Angeles Lakers talk after the Lakers practice on November 16, 2009 at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California.    picture appears courtesy  of nbae/getty images/ Noah Graham ...............
Head Coach Phil Jackson and Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers talk after the Lakers practice on November 16, 2009 at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Noah Graham ...............

So undoubtedly, I’m as perplexed as the next person to find out that some itinerant Lakers’ fans saw fit to berate, disparage and boo the team after a recent loss on their homecourt. And as fickle as fans can sometimes be. I think that the Lakers’ fans in particular ought to be happy with their lot and appreciative of the talent that Bryant has been surrounded by. Hell, it could be a hell of a lot worse , you could be watching the Clippers ? OK , so I threw that in there to annoy you, the most discerning of Lakers’ fans ! But like I’ve said be appreciative of what you have in front of you. Not only in terms of Kobe Bryant , but also the team’s coach in , Phil Jackson and that of his coaching staff. Because without the likes of Frank Hamblen, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Brian Shaw,Craig Hodges and Jim Cleamons. One seriously doubts that the Lakers would’ve made it as far as they did last year. he old adage is that….’players wins games and defense wins championships’. But to my mind without the proper coaching they’re not able to achieve the goals that are set for them to begin with. And that’s most certainly where the abilities Phil Jackson and his coaching staff comes mightily handy.No one’s of the belief that this Lakers’ team could’ve rode single handedly on the shoulders of Bryant alone, on their way winning last season’s NBA title ?

 Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Trevor Ariza  of the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Rockets won 101-91.    picture appears courtesy  of  getty  images/ Stephen  Dunn
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against Trevor Ariza of the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Rockets won 101-91. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports and Associated Press

Lakers booed at home in 101-91 loss to Rockets

By Beth Harris , AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Trevor Ariza(notes) got his NBA championship ring and his Houston Rockets got the win.

Aaron Brooks(notes) saw the ring dripping with diamonds and suddenly he was off on a career night. He took the Houston Rockets with him, scoring a career-high 33 points, including five 3-pointers, in a 101-91 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday night, sending the Lakers to a second consecutive loss.

“That’s my first time seeing an NBA ring,” Brooks said. “It moved us and we played inspired basketball.”

And the NBA champs? Well, they looked downright ordinary again.

The Lakers were coming off a 105-79 drubbing at Denver two nights earlier only to have another team they vanquished in last season’s title run show them up at home, where they got booed.

“Defensively, we need to step it up,” Andrew Bynum(notes) said. “That’s what we’re lacking right now. We got guards trying to box out bigs. Bigs trying to box out guards. We’re all over the place right now.”

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So forgive me for saying this, but we’re a mere eleven game into the season, with the Los Angeles Lakers (7-3) having the fourth best record tied with the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference. Whereupon, they only sit 1 1/2 games behind the division leading, Phoenix Suns (9-2) in the Pacific Divsion . And within the division you have the likes of the Sacramento Kings, L. A. Clippers and the Golden State Warriors. And while one might only view the Suns as their most serious threat within the division. That isn’t to say that Phil Jackson and his players are overlooking the Suns, or any other team within the Western Conference.

Winning, we know cures all that ails but the true test of a team is how they handle the adversity of losing. And whether or not the lessons that are learned from a loss makes them a better team in the future. Something it appears that the Lakers’ fans in attendance couldn’t care less about. But as I alluded to earlier they’d have you believe that many of them are the most knowledgeable NBA fans around. That may well be the case in some instances but I can only surmise that those who were showing their displeasure during and after the 101-91 loss to the Houston Rockets, were either inebriated or they’re just your normal belligerent oafish fans, you’d come to expect in attendance at a sporting event. And OK, so we know that this loss didn’t help, knowing that this came off an earlier loss to the Denver Nuggets,some nights earlier. The result there too was another blowout loss 105-79 and where the Nuggets’ Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with an almost effortless 25 points,4 reb’s,3 steals, 2 assists and a thoroughly engaging display. But if anything,it was an allround team effort, with some stifling defense from the George Karl coached team.

Two consecutive losses and you’d have thought that the Lakers’ season is already over ? But nothing could be further from the truth and if anything the majority of Lakers’ fans ought to know this. But it would appear that far too many of them are about the here and now- what have you done for me lately ? That sort of thinking shows the crass side of the fans who are essentially unintelligent ! Yes, I said it ,unintelligent ! What are going to do, piss on me for telling the truth ?

The Lakers’ display,though woefully inept against the Nuggets. No one
could’ve imagined that it would carry over the game against the Rockets and result in the 101-91 loss. It may well have come out of over complacency, exhaustion. Or the mere fact that having just received their championship rings they were to in awe of the event and just thought that they’d ride their through part of the game and then turn it on at will, against the Rockets ? For Ron Artest formerly of the Rockets and now with the Lakers. This must’ve been a night that he’d rather forget. And for the Rockets, Trevor Ariza was facing his former team and no doubt hell bent on showing what they’d be missing out on , in not having re-signed him.

And while one can appreciate that the Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA champions. The hardest thing in the world to do , is to come back and successfully defend that championship. Albeit, that Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant have been recipients of such a feat. In the case of Jackson, he achieved his three-peat with the Chicago Bulls twice, with Michael Jordan being the tour-de-force on each of those occasions. And then came a third three-peat , this time around with Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in tow with the Lakers. We know that if the Los Angeles Lakers are indeed to successfully defend their title. Then it’ll have to be an allout effort right across the board from the team .

Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.   picture  appears courtesy of  getty images/ Stephen  Dunn   ..............
Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots against the Houston Rockets on November 15, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. picture appears courtesy of getty images/ Stephen Dunn ...................

A great deal is expected from the likes of Jordan Farmar, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom ,and in particular both Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum. Artest, in particular has to show that the organization’s faith in signing him was justified. And Bynum has to prove that he’s finally ready to take his game to the next level. For Bryant, all he has to do is just lead this with the resolve and maturity he’s shown. While undoubtedly showing that he’s still marquee player in the league , bar none ! People can opine about LeBron James and how he is the best player in the NBA. But until his legacy as a player, shows something tangible by way of a championship. In essence ,he’ll be viewed as nothing more than a protoge’ and an exceptional player.

As I alluded to earlier though Kobe Bryant has yet to bow from the NBA stage and ride off into the sunset. Chances are that if the behavior of those alleged Lakers’ fans continue. Then he may well choose to ride off into the sunset, not into retirement but to ply his trade elsewhere in the NBA. Stranger things have happened and will happen in this game we call basketball. But the strangest of them all, would be to see Kobe Bryant driven out of Los Angeles because of the bellicose fans who call themselves true Lakers’ fans. We expect fans to be critical of their teams when they’re not playing well. What one doesn’t expect, is for those fans to behave as if they’ve suddenly found the art of being an absolute moron. Appreciate Bryant while you can. Because I’d hate to see the lights go out at the Staples Center , should Kobe up and leave. Because if ‘The Mamba’ leaves, there won’t be much to entice the fans to the Staples Center. And then what would the likes Jack, Dyan, Will, Jada , Tom and Katie do for an evening out ? Go watch the L A Galaxy of the MLS ? I think not !

Los Angeles Lakers’ Team Roster 2009-10

NUM PLAYER POS HT WT DOB FROM YRS
37 Ron Artest F 6-7 260 11/13/1979 St. John’s 10
12 Shannon Brown G 6-4 210 11/29/1985 Michigan State 3
24 Kobe Bryant G 6-6 205 08/23/1978 Lower Merion HS (PA) 13
17 Andrew Bynum C 7-0 285 10/27/1987 St. Joseph HS (NJ) 4
1 Jordan Farmar G 6-2 180 11/30/1986 UCLA 3
2 Derek Fisher G 6-1 210 08/09/1974 Arkansas-Little Rock 13
16 Pau Gasol F-C 7-0 250 07/06/1980 Barcelona, Spain 8
28 Didier Ilunga-Mbenga C 7-0 255 12/30/1980 Kinshasa, DRC 5
6 Adam Morrison F 6-8 205 07/19/1984 Gonzaga 2
7 Lamar Odom F 6-10 230 11/06/1979 Rhode Island 10
21 Josh Powell F 6-9 240 01/25/1983 North Carolina State 4
18 Sasha Vujacic G 6-7 205 03/08/1984 Maribor, Slovenia 5
4 Luke Walton F 6-8 235 03/28/1980 Arizona 6

HEAD COACH
Phil Jackson (College – North Dakota)

ASSISTANT COACHES
Frank Hamblen (College – Syracuse)
Brian Shaw (College – UC-Santa Barbara)
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (College – UCLA)
Craig Hodges (College – Long Beach State)
Jim Cleamons (College – Ohio State)

ATHLETIC TRAINER
Gary Vitti (College – Southern Connecticut State, Utah)

C – Captain
** – Unsigned Draft Pick
(FA) – Free Agent

Kobe You And Are I Going To Rule The World And We’ll Have the ‘Illest ‘ Rap Video Out There ! And Tell Kanye At The 2010 VMA’s We’d Appreciate His Support

As a child growing up in the West Indies, I can remember my grandmother telling me “…… what doesn’t hurt you , won’t kill you.” Imagine to my surprise then when I heard that the Los Angeles Lakers had signed the enfant-terrible’ Ron Artest . Now don’t get me wrong , as a player , I admire Artest for what he brings to the table. An unstoppable zest for the game and a zeal not too often seen from players with far more ability but even less heart. In many respects after the Kobe -Shaq era of unbridled success with the exception of the lopsided loss of an NBA championship series to the Detroit Pistons . The last thing one might have expected , was the for the Lakers to have made a full court press and to have acquired Artest as a free agent.

Kobe  Bryant  (left) and   newly  minted  teammate  Ron  Artest   picture  appears   courtesy  of  reuters /  Mike   Blake  ..............................
Kobe Bryant (left) and newly minted teammate Ron Artest picture appears courtesy of reuters / Mike Blake ..............................

And if one remembers at the time , that Lakers’ team had enough egos on it , that it would’ve made more sense to have five separate balls on the court . Rather than them all having to share one apiece. You had Kobe Bryant , Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Karl Malone and last but not least Derek Fisher.

From  left  to  right  Gary Payton,  Shaquille O'Neal,  Karl  Malone  ,  Kobe  Bryant   and   Rick  Fox.   All  have   a  forelorn   upon them as  they began  to    realize  that   the  improbable  and  the   inevitable was  about to  happen.   They  would   lose  the  NBA  Final   series  to  the  Eastern  Conference's  Detroit  Pistons.       picture  appears  courtesy  of   getty  images /    Mitchell   Russell  ........................
From left to right Gary Payton, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone , Kobe Bryant and Rick Fox. All have a forelorn upon them as they began to realize that the improbable and the inevitable was about to happen. They would lose the NBA Final series to the Eastern Conference's Detroit Pistons. picture appears courtesy of getty images / Mitchell Russell ........................

There’s a saying that oil and water don’t mix . And in the case of adding Malone and Payton into the mix. Whilst on paper , it may well have all looked good. And the NBA pundits were saying that the Lakers at the time were “a sure thing thing to win to win it all “. The fact of the matter was the Lakers were too cock sure of themselves. And as the complacency set in , so too did the acrimony between the quartet of superstars on the team. What transpired in those NBA Finals was a lesson as why the old adage stills holds true. “Too many Chiefs not enough Indians .”

Lakers'  coach  Phil  Jackson  speaks  to  the   members  of  the  media   at  a  news  conference   at the   team's   training  facility  in  El  Segundo  ,  California.      The  team   now  embarks  on the  defense  of  their  2008-09   NBA  title.    picture  appears courtesy  of   ap/photo/  Nick  Ut  ..................
Lakers' coach Phil Jackson speaks to the members of the media at a news conference at the team's training facility in El Segundo , California. The team now embarks on the defense of their 2008-09 NBA title. picture appears courtesy of ap/photo/ Nick Ut ..................

And the NBA Finals 2003-04 truly set the Lakers apart from other teams that’ve made the NBA Finals. Point blank favorites they would succumb to the Pistons in a rout unprecedented in its execution and precision. The Lakers’ players were made to look languid and very much like a group of aged geriatrics who knowingly looked out of place. And at the end of it all the Pistons would triumph with an emphatic 4-1 series win and with Chauncey Billups being named Finals’ Series MVP.

Kobe  Bryant  speaks to  members  of  the  media   at the  team's   media  day  at  the   opening  of  their  training   camp  at  the  Toyota  Center   ,  the  team's training   facililty  in  El  Segundo  ,  California.     The   Finals  MVP  of  last  year  is   relishing  the  challenge  of   opening   up  the   2009-10  season  as  the   defending   NBA  champions  and   is  looking  to   successfully   defend  that  title.       picture  appears  courtesy  of   nbae/getty  images/  Evan  Gole   ................
Kobe Bryant speaks to members of the media at the team's media day at the opening of their training camp at the Toyota Center , the team's training facililty in El Segundo , California. The Finals MVP of last year is relishing the challenge of opening up the 2009-10 season as the defending NBA champions and is looking to successfully defend that title. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Evan Gole ................

Courtesy of nbcsports.com and The Orange County Register

Kobe, Lakers must be even hungrier to repeat

‘Our focus is on getting better. It’s not really on replicating what we did’

By Kevin Ding Orange County Register

You might’ve forgotten, and Kobe Bryant almost has by now, but the Lakers broke through for a championship not too long ago … and had some trouble when they reconvened for the first time to defend it.

It was the 2000-01 season, and it was the first time Bryant’s feud with Shaquille O’Neal spread to the public consciousness.

O’Neal had a traditional plan that they could just replay the previous season; Bryant came back with new muscles to flex. Two-and-a-half months into the schedule, they were sniping through the media about Bryant overdoing his offense and O’Neal dogging it on defense.

The issue, as described back then by one Phil Jackson, was this about Bryant: “Some nights he’s in balance. Some nights it’s over the edge with trying to find how he can do a little bit better.”

In the end, Bryant hiked his scoring average from 22.5 points to 28.5 (more than he averaged in either of the past two seasons, by the way) and infused the Lakers with a fire they needed to become a far better team.

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Ron  Artest   of the  Los  Angeles  Lakers   poses   for  his  official  team  photograph  at  the  team's  training  facility   in  El  Segundo,  California.    Artest   brings along  a  great  deal  of  veteran   experience  and  it's   hoped   leadership   that'll   prove  invaluable  alongside  that   of    his  teammate  Kobe  Bryant.      picture  appears courtesy  of  nbae/getty  images/   Juan Ocampo    ......................
Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers poses for his official team photograph at the team's training facility in El Segundo, California. Artest brings along a great deal of veteran experience and it's hoped leadership that'll prove invaluable alongside that of his teammate Kobe Bryant. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Juan Ocampo ......................

Now come full circle, after the Lakers’ overwhelming triumph over the outmaneuvered and overwhelmed Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals of the 2008-09 season. Whereby, the Lakers secured their fifteenth NBA title and their coach Phil Jackson , his tenth . All it’s said had to be right in “Lakerland”. However , the tremors were there for all to witness, as the negotiations started in earnest for the renewal of contracts for players who were part of the team’s triumph. Lamar Odom it was suggested , that he was no longer a valid part of the team. And for Trevor Ariza , he felt that he deserved not only more playing time but also more money. For the Lakers’ hierarchy, a decision had to be made . And that laid in the hands of not only the owner , Dr. Jerry Buss . But also that of Phil Jackson and the team’s GM, Mitch Kupchak.

Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchak speaks about what he feels that Ron Artest can provide for the Lakers as a player. The GM also speaks about the loss of Trevor Ariza , who signed with the Houston Rockets as a free agent.

Much to everyone’s surprise Ariza was allowed to flee and he signed with the Houston Rockets . Odom was re-signed by the team. But low and behold , within their midst came Ron Artest , hoping to pursue his goal of winning an NBA championship. And that comes with baggage included no doubt ? The question might now have to ask, is whether or not Artest can acclimatize himself amongst his new-found teammates and not become a disruptive distraction. We all found it somewhat surprising that during the playoffs with the Rockets , that he alongside Aaron Brooks ,showed leadership and played with a great deal of aplomb and zeal. And though the team’s heroic effort came up short , it showed Ron Artest in a light not previously seen before. That was with a Rockets team that didn’t have the services of either Tracy McGrady or Yao Ming for the playoffs. Yao Ming was lost prior to start of those playoffs. And McGrady as we know , well he’s about as soft as they come and then some !

The Los Angeles Lakers are most certainly looking to repeat as NBA champions. And if anything, they will be looked upon as the presumptive favorites within the Western Conference of the NBA. Though it has to be said that the likes of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks , New Orleans > Hornets, Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns would all like to think of themselves as noteworthy candidates to assume that mantel as favorites. But in all honesty, it is the Lakers who definitely have the most well rounded roster and the ability to win it all, of the favored representatives in the conference. That’s got to be the case with the addition of Ron Artest. He gives the team an additional offensive option beyond Bryant , Odom and Pau Gasol . And at the same time his defensive play cannot be questioned , as he’s amongst the very best in the game.

Lamar  Odom   of  the  Lakers   seen  here  at  the   team's   training   faclity    the  Toyota  Center   doing   some   pre-game   warmup  exercises.     The   player  was   re-signed   by  the  team    in  the   hopes  of   boosting  their  chances  of   repeating  as   NBA  champions.         picture  appears  courtesy  of   nbae/getty images/  Andrew   D.  Bernstein  .....................
Lamar Odom of the Lakers seen here at the team's training faclity the Toyota Center doing some pre-game warmup exercises. The player was re-signed by the team in the hopes of boosting their chances of repeating as NBA champions. picture appears courtesy of nbae/getty images/ Andrew D. Bernstein .....................

And while there’s no doubt that in many people’s eyes the Los Angeles Lakers are the team to beat. In the Eastern Conference the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic would like to feel that they’ll be able to negate those thoughts. If nothing else they’ll do their utmost to prove that the supremacy of the NBA just doesn’t reside in the West but like a pendulum it tends to swing both ways.

As to what now lies ahead for Artest and his new teammates. The whole NBA world awaits as to what may well materialize. None more so than the fans of the Lakers , who now feel that even with the loss of Ariza . They are now in much better shape than before . As to what this’ll also mean for Kobe Bryant. One can surmise that the player is no doubt happy with outcome. Let’s just hope that two won’t at all be pursuing a joint recording and rap career . God knows we’ve had to suffer the indignity of listening to Bryant rap , much less the indecipherable mono-toned absurdities of Artest. It’ll be better for all of us , if they just let their ballin’ on the court speak for itself , wouldn’t you say ?