Metta Sandiford-Artest: How valuable he was to the Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

I remember when Metta Sandiford-Artest, then known as Ron Artest had come out of high school. His name was everywhere you looked when it came to college basketball. He and I have a few things in common. First off, he grew up about 25 minutes from where I did in Queens, New York. We both went to St. John’s University and then he played for my all-time favorite team… the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sure he could score. We knew that way back in high school but what we didn’t know was just how tenacious of a defender he was as well as an overall player.  It was the perfect move for the Lakers to sign him prior to the 2009-10 season.

His toughness was something that the Lakers lacked. There aren’t too many players in the league, even in today’s game, that are as tough as he was. Artest would get all over opponents. He was fearless and never backed down. It’s some of the many skills that made him the great player that he was. No one dared cross him, although when he came to the Lakers, he was always playing under control and within the team.

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Most importantly was his ability to blend into the Lakers’ offense. Artest took a back seat to scoring and came in and did what was needed. It is the sort of thing that seems so rare these days in basketball when so many are just concerned about how many points they can score in a game, and yet they haven’t won anything or continue to go from team to team where they get paid millions of dollars and do not make the team better.

That was not the case with Metta Sandiford-Artest.

Like Derek Fisher, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, Artest became an integral part of the team, doing what he did best and helping them to win. He wanted to win a title as did many others on that team.

I have always had the utmost respect for Metta Sandiford-Artest. He was never one to back down from a challenge and played fearlessly. Of course, he had his troubles early on in his career but he was able to transform himself for the better and use his skills and power correctly.

What I respect is that even when he was a star on teams such as the Chicago Bulls or the Indiana Pacers, he never forgot where he came from and his roots. After all, he was a tough kid from Queens. That says a lot about an athlete or a person, in my opinion.

He knew the streets and he had a lot of valuable life experiences that many cannot relate to. Metta was tough as nails. He is the type of player that all teams should have. In fact, players such as Montrezl Harrell still possess that type of fearless attitude in today’s game. It is rare these days.

There were not many like Metta Sandiford-Artest. Players that are gritty who have no fear about doing all the dirty work because after all, that is some of the most important work that needs to be done in order for a team to be successful.

Other players that come to mind are Charles Oakley, A.C. Green, Kurt Thomas, Dennis Rodman, Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Matt Barnes, etc. Guys who would knock your teeth into the back of your throat and have no problem doing it if they had to. Yet, they were mega-talented.

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If you haven’t seen it, check out the documentary, ‘Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story‘.