For 12 of the 13 Lakers riding a float around downtown L.A. Monday morning, the parade marked a fun day, but one where everyone knew what to expect. For Ron Artest, however, this was virgin territory, and the experience pretty much blew his mind. "I didn't think it would be that crazy and [have] that much energy." Still, that doesn't mean the festivities couldn't be tweaked down the road to better suit his particular fancy:
"Hopefully, one day, they'll let me go into the crowd. After we get like, four or five rings, Kobe get his nine rings, maybe I'll just go into the crowd, maybe tear an ACL, but I'll have four rings and it won't even matter no more... They can step on me, stomp on me, whatever."
Suggestion noted, Ron.
If this sentiment comes off a little loosy goosy, it’s probably because Artest was feeling, well, good. As he admitted, a couple of adult beverages were consumed before the party started. “I wanted to enjoy it,” said Artest, who noted how he “didn’t really take a drink for the last five or seven months.” But despite the last few days centered around a fair share of celebration, Artest still managed to squeeze in a Sunday night workout. There was also a vow not to leave the gym this offseason.
Earlier, I posted footage of Ron performing an A cappella version of "Champion," his [knock on wood] hit rap single in the making. Artest explained the song's forward-looking backstory. Once it was clear he and the Lakers were about to join forces, Artest went to the studio that same night and went to work at the mic. The rest, as they say, is history. An inspirational tale of a rolling stone gathering no moss, to be certain, but I wondered what would have happened to the song if the Lakers didn't repeat.
My question was met with a long pause and a long smile.
"Man, you know what? I probably would have saved it until we won. That would have been bad. I probably would have come up with a song called, 'Give me one more chance.' "
The origins of Ron's unique chapeau were also revealed. It was the handiwork of his daughter Diamond, who included pink feathers despite Daddy's noted dislike of the color. From the way Ron describes events at home, Diamond's a fan of playing pranks on Daddy in general. But the pride in wearing his child's creation was obvious.
Lamar Odom offered an interesting response when asked if this title feels particularly special, given the history between these teams and a little time gone by let it all sink in:
"It feels great, but it hurts more when you lose. You know what I'm saying? It feels great, but you can understand how great it feels. To lose, it's ten times more hurtful."
Odom, on the parade:
Asked about his long-time coach, Kobe Bryant expressed extreme confidence Phil Jackson will return next season, health provided. Pau Gasol certainly hopes The Mamba's prediction proves correct.