Commentary

Artest does NYC proud in Game 7

Queensbridge product proves he's as crazy as ever, but comes out a winner

Updated: June 18, 2010, 10:03 PM ET
By Chris Sheridan | ESPNNewYork.com

LOS ANGELES -- Attention everyone at the Queensbridge projects in New York City: Y'all were well-represented not only in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, but in the postgame interview room, too.

Ron Artest brought his parents, son and assorted siblings on stage at the postgame interview podium Thursday night following his spectacular performance in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and it was an interview unlike any the NBA had ever seen before.

Think stream of consciousness.

Now think stream of consciousness from someone who is not always conscious of what is streaming out of his mouth.

And then consider for a moment that before Artest even took a single question, he made a point of shouting over to the other side of the room, where the print journalists were working on their stories; he mentioned that he wanted to go clubbing, then did a little mime act of typing on a computer and asked for a little acknowledgment.

Well, the first thing to acknowledge is that Artest was the only member of the Lakers who was out there just ballin' in the first three quarters, the only player in purple and gold who played as though the pressure of the evening meant nothing to him.

He was the first Lakers player interviewed on ABC after scoring 20 points with five rebounds and five steals in the 83-79 victory that gave Los Angeles the title, and he made a point to thank his psychiatrist (among many others).

Yes, really.

And he elaborated on it up on the podium after noting, somewhat dejectedly, that one of his sons had chosen to hang out with Kobe Bryant's family rather than appear in front of the cameras with the rest of the extended Artest family.

"Honestly, I've got to thank my doctor," Artest said. "She would come and help me relax in these moments because usually I'm not good at these moments, and I know that about myself. So what do I do to be good at these moments?"

Artest, whose defense on Paul Pierce was fierce throughout the night, made one of the biggest shots of the game -- a 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining that gave the Lakers a 79-73 lead.

Lakers fans had taken to audibly groaning every time Artest hoisted a shot, remembering his ill-advised 3-pointer early in the shot clock after the Lakers had grabbed a key offensive rebound late in their clinching victory over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference finals. But those groans quickly turned to euphoric cheers when this late 3-pointer went in off an assist from Bryant.

"He never passes me the ball, and he passed me the ball. Kobe passed me the ball and I shot a 3. He's a Zen master, so he can speak to you and he doesn't need a microphone, you can hear him in your head: 'Ron, don't shoot, don't shoot.'

"Whatever. Pow -- 3. I love the Zen, though."

Those were Artest's closing comments, but it would be a disservice to the spectacle of the moment if we did not reference the remarks -- aside from prompting journalists for applause -- that Artest opened his interview with.

They were disjointed, but poignant.

"Oh, man, first I want to say that God put me in a situation, before I go real crazy, put me in a situation and I want to thank him for his blessing, a Game 7, home-court advantage. We gave away Game 2, or I gave away Game 2. Game 7, you go to bed, I want to thank God for this blessing to be here, and one thing I said earlier, when I was younger I bailed out on my Indiana team. I was so young, so egotistical, and I bailed out on Donnie [Walsh], Larry [Bird], Jermaine [O'Neal], [Jamaal] Tinsley, [Jeff] Foster, who never bails out, he just fights for you, for his team. Stephen Jackson, who already had a ring, continued to fight for us, etc. I sometimes feel like a coward when I see those guys because it's like, man, I'm on the Lakers and I had a chance to win with you guys, and I almost feel like a coward. I never thought God would put me in this situation again because of that."

Regarding the big 3-pointer, Artest again said it all came down to what his shrink had been telling him.

"I needed some way to relax during these moments. I missed a couple of 3s that I was wide open that I wished would have went down, and I trusted everything she told me as far as relaxing. And bam, the big 3 goes in.

"I didn't even realize I was really in Game 7, I was so caught up in the game itself."

He certainly realized it afterward, a championship cap atop his head and a proud family surrounding him. He made them proud, and Queensbridge should be proud of him, too. A lot of crazies come out of those projects, and Artest is one of them.

But on the NBA's ultimate stage, that crazy man did his hometown a solid. And without him, it's plausible to say it would be the Celtics, not the Lakers, celebrating a championship today.


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