HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — One of the side benefits of the Lakers being back in their championship groove is that we get to see more and more of Ron Artest at his candid best.
And that’s on and off the floor.
He’s back to playing his ferocious brand of defensive-minded basketball and delighting the masses — well, everyone but maybe Phil Jackson — with his other pursuits.
So in addition to quality postgame storytelling and on-court work, Artest is working hard at his music — this YouTube gem from his video shoot is priceless — and his general showmanship.
The Lakers, of course, need him locked in and focused on basketball. Last night against the Suns, he showed his wares. Much like Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, Artest played the role of unlikely hero in what has to be the game of the year, thus far.
Artest scored seven points in overtime, including that crucial steal and dunk in the third overtime of the Lakers’ 139-137 thriller. Then he tops it all off with a postgame session with the media (above) that ranks right up there with his wild ride after Game 7 that sits atop the heap of all-time greatest interview room showcases.
Like it or not, this is the Artest that gives the Lakers their best chance to keep their current ride going. When he’s energized and on top of his game, the Lakers have an unpredictable force that few teams in the league can deal with. As my main man Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times explains, Ron-Ron was a bit animated against the Suns:
Ron Artest blew kisses to the crowd in the first overtime after his three-pointer gave the Lakers a 119-116 lead.
Artest kissed his biceps after his steal led to his dunk and a 135-132 Lakers lead in the third overtime.
Get the picture?
Artest was animated during the Lakers’ 139-137 triple-overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns Tuesday night at Staples Center.
“I kind of knew what the outcome was going to be, so I was relaxed” Artest maintained. “We talked about it.”
It figures Artest would talk this way, because only he can sum up his play that way.
Artest had seven points during the overtimes, three in the first OT and four in the third, all of them important.
He finished the game with 18 points on seven-for-14 shooting.
He also had three steals and one blocked shot in 48 minutes, 29 seconds.
“No, I’m not tired,” Artest said. “I knew what was going to happen so I was just out there skating.”
Artest and Kobe Bryant, who finished with 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, were the only Lakers to score in the third overtime.
Artest’s childhood friend and teammate Lamar Odom probably captured the moment best when he said this about Artest:
“He understands the stage we play on. He’s going to make a great wrestler. He’s got the antics and he knows what’s going on. He’ll hit a guy with a chair. Ron will be one of the best wrestlers ever.”
If Ron-Ron’s wrestling career is anything like the fantastic voyage that his NBA career has been, wrestling fans are in for a treat. Sure, Artest has had his issues. But few players are as entertaining as Artest can be when he’s as engaged as he has been since the All-Star break.
It’s no coincidence that the Lakers, aided also by the resurgence of a healthy and focused Andrew Bynum, have been on a roll since then.
Just think, we could have three more months of this stuff from the Lakers … and Ron-Ron!