Anyone who has read me for awhile or heard me expound on the radio or TV knows that I'm a big Ron Artest fan. I flat out think he's one of the 10 best players in the NBA. I don't care about the brawl or the record label or all the flagrant fouls. (By the way, that picture is Mike Brown trying to peel Artest off that fan in Detroit last year). This is why I could never be an NBA general manager, because I would be tempted to forget about character when it came to getting talent. I'd trade for Artest in a heartbeat. In fact, the day after he was suspended last season I called Jim Paxson and asked him if there was any way the Cavs could trade for him. He set me straight.
Anyway, the point is I'm very much looking forward to seeing how LeBron handles Artest tomorrow night. The Cavs haven't won in Indy in three years and last year they were embarrassed twice in there. I'm sure this game means a lot to Brown and it is a great test to see where the Cavs stand. It really doesn't matter who wins at this point, it is how the Cavs play. Which is why it's worth watching Artest and LBJ.
When LeBron was a rookie, the only guy that got to him was Artest. He was rough, he was physical and he shut him down. They only got to play once last season, in the opener and it was a great two-overtime affair. LeBron is better, stronger, and more respected by officials now and the stakes are higher so I'm probably not going to take my eyes off those two much.
I see rivalries with LeBron and Andre Igoudala of the Sixers, Andres Noiconi of the Bulls, Ricky Davis of course, developing. But none of these will be more important than his matchup with Artest because the Cavs will eventually have to beat Indiana to do anything meaningful long term. Same goes for Detroit, of course, but I think the Cavs are built for the longer haul right now. In basketball terms, tomorrow night will be a big-time heat-check.
In other news: