After winning their first NBA Championship since the historical three peat during the 2001-02 season, the Los Angeles Lakers headed into the offseason with all the confidence in the world to repeat again next year.
But with major trades and signings taken place between the final game of the season and today (Vince Carter to Orlando, Shaq to Cleveland, R. Jefferson to San Antonio, Ben Gordon and Charlie V to Detroit), Los Angeles decided that it was time to up the ante with the signing of quite possibly the most underrated superstar in the game today, Ron Artest.
Artest has the talent and abilities that most athletes in the league do not possess.
His arsenal consists of a dynamic offensive game that enables him to shoot at a high percentage and attack the rim with ease. In addition, Artest is amongst the top defenders in the NBA, usually being assigned to face up against the best offensive players in the league today.
The biggest question that LA faces is if the signing of Ron Artest assures them another title next season.
To find out the answer we begin with...
Can Artest control his emotions in an LA uniform?
Let's face it, Artest is well-known for his outrage and anger on the NBA court. He is the type of player that nobody wants to mess with on the floor, and he certainly is not the kind of guy that let's go of things easily.
With arguably the best player and coach in the NBA today on Artest's new team, will Ron really be able to let things "slip" on the court, not cause havoc in the locker room, and not complain to the media about the ball not being placed into his hands enough?
The questions and concerns about a player like Artest could go on forever, which leads me into my next inquiry...
The Ego Factor
Kobe Bryant is the face of the Los Angeles Lakers. He has been since his rookie season and he will continue to be until the day he retires.
In the NBA, many player's egos seem to take over their head, causing them to forget why they are actually playing the game they love in the first place.
In an interview earlier this season with ESPN, Ron Artest was asked,
"What do you think about LeBron James and his game?"
Artest responded back stating,
"I think he is an improved Ron Artest."
Will Artest really be able to transition himself from having all the spotlight on him to becoming a backup dancer on Kobe Bryant's court?
Moreover, will Artest be able to sleep at night knowing that No. 24 will end up with the ball during the last seconds of the game, or will his ego take control of his body and cause chaos throughout all of Los Angeles?
We all saw the Artest and Bryant match up during the second round of the playoffs this season, and although both said they leave their game on the court, is Bryant really willing to have another "Shaq-like" player back onto his squad? All the time knowing that in the back of his mind Artest could come out after a bad game with a remix to O'Neal's hit song, "Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes?"
Assuming the professional side of Artest is brought to the table for LA, it looks as if no team (regardless of the trades that have been accepted thus far), has a chance at competing against the Lakers next season.
Artest is a tremendous competitor and puts fear into the hearts of any defender that attempts to prevent him from scoring the ball into the basket.
On the flip side, Artest can also become a huge burden and disturbance for Los Angeles next season if he were to let his ego get to his head.
As mentioned above, Artest has been widely known for his abominable behavior: Just type in "Indiana Pacers/Detroit Pistons fight" onto YouTube.
But at the end of the day, the positives and negatives of having Ron Artest on any team evens out.
Regardless of the scenario, the Lakers were Champions this past season and they have now added a huge star onto their roster.
The final question is brought up once again: Does the signing of Ron Artest assure the Los Angeles Lakers another title?