How The West Was Won, Lakers Set to Add Ron Artest

stephen rileyCorrespondent IJuly 4, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers hugs Ron Artest #96 of the Houston Rockets after the Lakers defeated the Rockets 89-70 in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

I guess it’s over. Wrap it up. Place your bets. Just go ahead and slate the Los Angeles Lakers in for a spot in next year’s Finals.

I wouldn’t blame you. With last week’s verbal agreement by the Lakers and Ron Artest to join an already stout roster, barring injury, the Lakers will have no choice but to repeat as Western Conference Champions for a third straight year.

If it was already a nation of Laker Haters, then President Obama is going to have to do something about border control because the addition of Artest is going to mean several more anti-L.Aians jumping the fence, standing in line to kick rocks at the purple and gold.

Even though former outcast turned superstar Trevor Ariza split title town and agreed to join forces with the Houston Rockets, the Lakers didn’t sweat it, they just went ahead and added a better piece to their puzzle in Artest.

While Artest may not be the up-and-coming uber athletic defender that Ariza is, he’s still one of the premier locksmiths in the league with a better all around offensive game.

The summer of 2010 is supposed to be the Y2K of the NBA. The year when systems go haywire, fantasy leagues turn upside down, and more money gets dished out than a Vegas upset payout.

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But the summer of 2009 is becoming more and more exciting by the week.

Jefferson moved to San Antonio, Shaq joined forces with LeBron and Carter went back home to Florida.

You can argue that each name on that list is probably a bigger name than Artest’s is right now, but none of which was a bigger addition than the former NBA Defensive Player of the Year.

Artest, Bryant, Gasol and Bynum is more size, skill, and length than what any competitor in the West or the East has to offer right now.

And if Odom renews his vows to team, Los Angeles may take a run at the 72 mark that Jordan’s Bulls put up back in 95.

No joke, I can really see a possible run at the NBA record for the Lakers. They finished last year at 65 wins without even trying and does anybody remember the last time some media labeled defensive nut joined forces with the best player in basketball?

Yup, the year was 95, Clinton had the country on cruise control, music was actually likeable and Dennis Rodman was running the court with good ole 23 to a tune of 72-10.

No wonder Phil Jackson announced his plans to return for next season.

I mean after all, the Zen Master was controlling the reigns for the Bulls that season and Artest’s announcement probably made coaching away games next year appear less of a daunting task for the aging Hall of Famer.

And it was title shifting announcement I must say. When rumors leaked out that Artest was being pursued by Cleveland, a possible combination of the original Superman, “The King” and the “Tru Warier” would’ve been an impressive trio.

Factor in Mo Williams, Delonte West and Zydrunas Illgauskus and the Cavs would’ve been a tough out for any ballclub.

Ah well, guess we don’t have to worry about that.

Artest is headed for Hollywood and the only thing us non-Laker fans can do about it is just sit here with our mouths wide open praying that Odom doesn’t resign.

Man oh man, Odom resigning would not only be a definite menace to the league but a crushing blow to my online subscription for NBA 2K10 on Xbox.

I can see the cheaters now, putting Kobe and Artest in the backcourt, running Odom, Gasol and Bynum up front. I’m shaking my head just thinking about it.

Even with all that firepower, it still wouldn’t be enough to keep me from playing my favorite game and I’m sure Artest’s announcement won’t keep the hundreds of professionals in the league from playing their favorite game as well.

No way is some verbal agreement or some possible resigning going to keep us all from playing the video game or the sport we love.

Now winning? Well…… that’s another story.