Thursday, June 10, 2010
"'Five Dollar Foot-long' is one of the best songs. That's a hot song. You've got the FreeCreditReport.com, and then 'Five Dollar Foot-long' comes on. When 'Five Dollar Foot-long' comes on, they should play that in the club. They should play all those in the club." -Ron Artest
When Jason Richardson watched Kobe's airball for a second too long, allowing an offensive rebound and put-back, killing the Suns for the summer, I sent a text message to a few people: "At least it was Artest." If the only team left worth rooting for was going to get the boot, best by the hand of the NBA's mad prince.
That phrase—"At least it's Artest"—sums up my feelings on these finals. Because there's not a finals match-up that I could imagine being less pleased with. I've never been able to contextualize history, so the "classic rivalry" angle leaves me limp. And I get that it's "good for the league" and whatever else you want to "put inside quotes," but watching two teams that always win battle to see who can win again is awful. Depressing stats: Only eight different teams have won a championship since 1980; the Lakers or Celtics have won 13 times in those 30 years and at least one of the two teams has appeared in 17 of those finals.
They are both detestable, but the Lakers are the team to root for here. Why?
Because at least they have Ron Artest. Seeing him win a ring would be unlike anything the league has ever witnessed.
Look, I get why the majority of fans, both casual and die-hard alike, are rooting for the Celtics (at least that's how it seems to break down on the East Coast). They're the underdogs here and are a few wins away from completing a pretty remarkable statement about the regular season and aging superstars. Plus the Lakers are bad guys: Phil and Kobe have evolved into some yellow and purple version of Grand Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader; hatred for Sasha Vulacic is apparently unanimous (although I'll never understand this, he seems unassuming enough); Gasol and Bynum are maddeningly taller than everyone; and I don't have to reiterate how people feel about Derek Fisher (Adam is about to do this for you later today or tomorrow). Most importantly, that new Kobe grimace where he only shows his bottom teeth is terrifying and says worlds more than its most simple message: "I made that shot, so fuck you."
Plus, there's no bro more despicable than the New York-based, casual Lakers fan. They're really Yankees fans who, when asked, say that the NBA is full of thugs (if they have enough Bud heavies in them they may use a harsher word here, because they are white and racist) and lacks the team play and hustle of the college game. Their home television has never flashed an NBA image, because they only watch games at bars. Nonetheless, they cheer for Kobe and the other players (whose names they don't know) louder than anyone who actually cares about the teams. Inexplicably, their yells contain buckets of vitriol and the translation of each "Yeeeaaah!!" after a Kobe dagger is clear: "Everyone in this bar who is cheering for the other team, or simply not cheering for the Lakers, is a fucking idiot. How can you be so stupid to think another team is going to win? You're dumb and I'm right. I also hit girls sometimes."
So yeah, I get Rhymetime's sentiment. But at least the Lakers have Artest. At least we have an interesting wildebeest in the eye of this hurricane of deja vu and forced importance.
Think about it. Imagine seeing Artest celebrate on the court after winning the championship. He'll get that wide-eyed, jubilant stare he does after he makes jokes in interviews; the one that says, "I know about universes, languages and defensive schemes that haven't been discovered yet. Plus, sometimes I forget what city I'm in and have trouble figuring out if I'm hungry or full." (Not sure why I'm giving voices to so many things today. Whatever, it happens.)
And what about Ron Artest at the championship parade?! Then he'll surely release a few verses about winning. Remember all those stories about the Celtic's big three celebrating after their 2008 title? Now imagine the ones we'll get to hear about Artest. Yeah, his are better.
Here's what 10 minutes on YouTube searching "Ron Artest" turns up:
Pulling Pierce's shorts down, then apologizing through song:
Singing "My Heart Will Go On":
"Brandon Roy is the best player I ever played against":
"Get Lo" feat Mike Jones:
Tooth falling out:
Artest and Yao, just chillin' (aka "Why Wasn't This A Sitcom?"):
If he wins a ring, we'll get four times that.
So I sincerely hope the Lakers win this. Because next fall (aside from LeBron James in a Nets jersey) there's nothing I'd like to watch more than commissioner David Stern hand Ron Artest a championship ring and whisper something gentle and snide into the ear of the man who almost killed his league. It will be like the end of Lost in Translation, except Ron Artest will be there. Acting crazy.