May 29, 2010

Redemption: The Ron Artest Story

If you ask me, the 2010 NBA Playoffs should be renamed "Redemption: The Ron Artest Story"

In Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Ron Artest made an ugly-looking shot off the glass at the buzzer that won it for the Los Angeles Lakers. I believe nobody thought that the game would end that way, even Ron himself.

With 3.5 seconds to go, the Lakers were inbounding and a play for Kobe Bryant was drawn up. Kobe is the master of game-winning shots and this was looking like another game-winner to his resume. But as he shot the ball over two defenders, the shot was short, way short. But from the left side of the court, Ron Artest swooped in from the back, caught the tough rebound and launched an awkward-looking shot. It kissed the board and went down the net. Lakers win by two and Artest is a hero.

On the game level, it was a quick turnaround from the bonehead plays Artest made. He took two bad shots that enabled the Suns to claw back into the game with a few minutes left. In one minute, Artest went from burly villain to valiant hero. That's what winning does.

On the big picture, Ron Artest's journey to redemption has been a long one. Anyone still remember "The Malice at the Palace" incident of 2004? Or his failures in Sacramento and playoff defeats with the Houston Rockets? With the Game 5 game-winner, Ron Artest managed to make those stories smaller, less significant. If the Lakers win the championship, Ron Artest's journey would be complete.

For Ron Artest, the road to redemption will be paved in gold and purple.

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