Ron Artest Jersey Lakers

Moments after one of the most devastating losses of his career, Kobe Bryant stewed in the locker-room showers, while the Boston Celtics begun their championship celebration back on the court.

As Bryant tried to recover from his Lakers’ 38-point shellacking, the most unlikely of people suddenly appeared.

In walked a fully clothed Ron Artest, who offered his help as water drenched his shoes.

Artest expressed to Bryant his desire to come to the Lakers, but first they would have to go head-to-head in the following postseason.

Artest joined the Houston Rockets over the offseason, teaming up Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady.

A fifth seed capable of doing some damage, Houston pushed the Lakers to their limit in the Western Conference Semifinals, where Bryant and Artest entered a heated duel.

It didn’t take long for the series to intensify, as the Rockets stole Game 1 before Bryant put up 40 points to capture the following contest.
Artest and Kobe Bryant are separated by an official after a heated exchange.

Artest and Kobe Bryant are separated by an official after a heated exchange.

That Game 2 saw tempers flare as Bryant and Artest tried to box each other out in the fourth quarter. Artest — upset that Bryant caught him in the throat with an elbow — was ejected while drenched with boos from the Staples Center crowd.

The two continued to go at it, as Artest was once again tossed in Game 3, and the series required seven games to determine the victor.

And as Bryant and the Lakers continued their march to the 2009 championship (while Artest watched from courtside as a fan), the defensive savant readied himself for an opportunity to join the purple and gold.

Shortly after the Lakers defeated Orlando in the NBA Finals, they began their quest for back-to-back titles by bringing aboard an old foe. Artest issued a statement about his new team, saying, “It will be great to finally not get booed in the Staples Center.”
Artest takes questions at his Los Angeles Lakers introductory press conference.

Artest takes questions at his Los Angeles Lakers introductory press conference.

Artest wasted no time bringing his trademark zaniness to Los Angeles, choosing to wear No. 37 in honor of the amount of weeks that Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” topped the charts.

But as soon as he hit the floor, it was all about the lockdown defense that the Lakers expected when they signed him.

By the third game of the season, he had impressed Bryant, who said that “we picked up our intensity, and it all started with No. 37,” after one of 18 Lakers victories in their first 21 games of the year.

With Artest leading the way defensively, the purple and gold rolled to the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. And the former Defensive Player of the Year set the tone with his trademark flare, particularly at the end of the year.

With the playoffs looming, he spent about three hours at the barber and returned with a Lakers-gold head of hair. Inscribed in purple across his dome was the same word written in Japanese, Hebrew and Hindi: defense.

Playoff Ron Ron was ready.

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