No, that's not a misprint. Ron Artest, Mr. Halftime Hennessy's himself, is the best thing to happen to the L.A. Clippers this year.
The Lakers are the cream of the NBA crop. They have a passionate owner, a dedicated GM, and the winningest coach in NBA history.
As if all that weren't enough, they have the best player in the league. Heck, they probably have five of the best 20 players in the league.
That team is Pamela Anderson: It's stacked.
They are Hollywood. Their players are on TV shows. Their bench mob dates celebrities.
The guy who invented their offense is on their payroll!
This team needs more attention like Pamela Anderson needs a fuller cup size.
The Lakers are a draw wherever they go, as a team or as individuals.
They are the car alarm that goes off at night times 10. Ron Artest is the siren and blinding lights that come after the alarm goes off. One can endure the alarm going off at night, but, when the sirens and light all join in, it's just too much.
Ron Artest and all the baggage he brings is just too much for this Lakers team.
As a player, Artest is just starting to come into his own wearing the purple and gold. He seems more comfortable, and there is no doubt that Artest, the player, will help this team repeat as champions.
That is, if Artest, the attention-whore, doesn't derail things.
The most amazing thing about Phil Jackson, aside from all the championships, is his ability to retain his voice after all these years.
There is a reason NBA coaches don't last long—when players stop listening, the coach has got to go. It's easier to replace one coach than 12 players.
Phil Jackson seems to have never lost his voice, his ability to get through to his team. That is truly amazing.
Of course, it helps that he has a sense of humor. He will need it when dealing with Artest's most recent alcohol-at-halftime revelation.
Teams in need of attention hire players who attract it.
Teams in need of revenue hire players that sell seats.
Teams in trouble hire players to distract the masses.
The Lakers weren't in any of those positions but hired a player that brought all of the above.
The Clippers are grateful.
The dynamic between these two teams is pretty interesting. They are polar opposites in almost every category.
The Lakers have the aforementioned passionate owner and an experienced GM.
The Clippers have an owner who shows up to games on occasion and was sued for discrimination by their former GM.
The Lakers have a storied history, filled with Hall of Fame players and NBA championships.
The Clippers have a history. They share the same building and fight for fans from the same general pool.
Because we humans seem to lack the capacity to accept two winners in such close proximity—we prefer a pecking order—the Clippers have long been doomed to second-class-citizen status.
Maybe the Clippers' fortunes would have been different if they opted for Anaheim instead of Los Angeles when the left San Diego.
Maybe if Elton Brand would have stayed instead of leaving for Philly, things would be better.
Maybe if Daniel Ewing wouldn't have fouled, maybe, maybe, maybe.
Where the Lakers are an exclamation mark, the Clippers are a question mark.
But now, it seems, the Lakers are the team with the uneasy glare of attention.
They are the team having to answer questions not related to the game. It's them who have to wonder, "What is he going to do next?"
Will all this unwanted attention distract the world champs? Not likely. Is it possible, however? Sure, it is.
All the while the Clippers get to concentrate on basketball. They get to continue to grow as a team and hit their stride.
It's the Clippers that are poised to bring on a midseason addition with a huge upside in Blake Griffin. It's the Clippers that have an exciting and young core of players.
The glare of attention in L.A. has always been pointed directly at the Lakers. This time it might blind them, however, and provide just enough of a distraction to allow the Clippers to fly under the radar.
I'm not suggesting the Clippers are overtaking the Lakers any time soon.
I am, however, throwing out the possibility that the giant may have blinked.