Boston Celtics 80s (Kevin McHale and Larry Bird)
Detroit Bad Boys of the 80s, (Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, Joe Dumars)
Detroit Bad Boys II of the 00s (Ben, Rasheed Wallace, Billups and Tayshaun)
Bulls 90s (Jordan, Pippen and Rodman)
Lakers 2009 (Kobe, Fisher, Pau and Lamar)
Every one of those teams mentioned above is despised by most of the country (except for fans within their own state/city). You can say all you want about them... however, a common denominator about all of them is that they ARE all winners and even the Artest teams may be considered "overachievers." But why?
The Boston Celtics of the 80s were talented. However, the Lakers of the 80s were much more talented and can use an all out offensive barrage of finesse and skills to easily overwhelm their opponents. How did the Celtics manage to beat them? The Kevin McHale Clothesline epitomizes many of their tough and dirty plays. You can hate them, but they are successful.
The Phoenix Suns could have easily been champions if it wasn't for tough and dirty plays (epitomized by Robert Horry's fist to Steve Nash's face). Yes, it is dirty... but guess what? That Phoenix Suns team shall be forgotten over the many many years.
Ron Artest's teams in Indiana and Houston were not very talented. Yet, they were semi-successful. Ron, Shane, Landry and Scola scared the Lakers didn't they? Better than Tracy could have dreamed even if all those numbers and statistics "back" him up. Sadly.. Tracy is lacking a spine, and a back... a back of toughness and grit.
Rodman... another example of a 'bad boy'... but one cannot argue his value to the Pistons and the Bulls.
Ariza even admits that the play that changed the Lakers was the Derek Fisher shoulder to Luis Scola. The Lakers relied on their talent throughout the playoffs and the Rockets minus Yao Ming managed to make it close? It was embarrassing for all Laker fans. that shoulder... showed the Rockets that yes... we want it more.
Artest's numbers aren't "great." But let's play a game... let's switch Artest with Hedo.. can the Rockets go to 7 against LA? NO. Switch with Durant or Carmelo... ? NO and NO. I will even go to say that if one switches Lebron with Artest... that the Rockets cannot extend the Lakers to 7 games. Lebron would add loads of individual talent, defense and camaraderie but what he does not do is instill a toughness and a will into every single one of his teammates. Lebron couldn't beat the Magic who couldn't even go to 6 against LA. Ron Artest just being on the Rockets team made every player on the Rockets roster TOUGH mentally and willfully. Scola, Landry, Battier elevated their toughness to push around much bigger Laker bigs.
Ron Artest said that he shall "Hoodalize" the Lakers. Go ahead laugh. LOLTSHandrollingonthefloor. We misunderstand him. What he means is that JUST like Kobe he shall infuse his DNA into the players as well. Kobe infused a competitive drive. Artest will instill a toughness, a bad boy into every single one of the Lakers. Trevor Ariza does not have a badboy in him. He shall not complain, he shall not fight, he shall not shove and he will let the officials do whatever they please. He is a good boy player and will do his best to shadow his opponents hoping for opportunities. Artest doesn't "shadow" he grabs, pushes, shoves and will make you sweat to obtain ideal position. Carmelo learned this through Chauncey... and he is better. Yes there are technicals, yes there are ejections... but along with those comes wins and in the end that's all that matters.
How does this apply with the current situation? Rasheed to the Celtics. A lineup that boasts Perkins, Garnett, Wallace, Pierce, Allen, Rondo AND House. That is a team of bad boys and that addition just made the Celtics a whole level stronger. Their will to win just rose again. Orlando SHALL sweat. It was not long ago where Rasheed and the Pistons called Dwight and the Magic "soft." Adding HIM to a team that made the Lakers seem soft in 2008? With this in mind... the Ron Artest pick up seems a lot smarter now doesn't it? It gives Laker fans a chance to breathe a little better because even if we did get tougher this year with the embarrassing 2008 finals fiasco.. we shall get tougher again. What is toughness? Toughness allows teams to overcome numbers, to overcome talent and to overcome expectations. Toughness allows teams to overachieve. This is why Ron Artest scared the Lakers despite the fact he shot 'terribly.' This is why an old and aging Spurs were able to whoop the fun, offensive juggernaut of the Suns.
There is no "value" to toughness. There are the +/- stats and those will not show Ron Artest's value. When he's off the court... his team's still tough. When he's on the court his team is still tough. Look at values like Win Score and PER and it does not make sense on how the Rockets fared better against the Lakers than Denver and Orlando. Perhaps the Lakers did take their game to another level. In fact they did... they weren't pushed around by the athletic bigs of the Nuggets or the man-beast Dwight. They became a little bit like the Rockets and Ron Artest.
What will Ron do to Bynum? What will Ron do to Gasol? What will Ron do to Odom? What will Ron do to everyone else? That's right.. the Lakers shall be the talented team we were last year... PLUS the bad boy toughness of the Houston Rockets.
Boston, I hope you stay healthy for 2010. So that we can duke it out in an all out war of wills and wits. May the best team win....