The Daily Grind Video
CLOSE

America loves a winner. From “Rocky” to the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team. We love winners. Short of (allegedly) murdering your ex-wife and a waiter, we are willing to forgive a lot as long as you win. We love winners more that we love ourselves. Once you are a champion we will gladly welcome you into our hearts.

After the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the NBA finals only one question remains: Is America ready for Ron Artest?

[pagebreak]

We all remember where we were when the name “Ron Artest” first came into our collective consciousness. It was November 19, 2004. The Indiana Pacers were visiting the Detroit Pistons. With less than a minute left in the game, whose outcome had already been decided, Artest and Detroit center Ben Wallace got into an altercation. That fight led to a Detroit fan throwing a drink at Artest. Ron snapped and went into the stands and started swinging. More Pacer players followed him and a full scale riot broke out.

The fighting even spilled onto the floor. It was probably the worst day in the history of the NBA.

[pagebreak]

The fallout was quick and swift. In all, nine players were suspended without pay, with Artest getting the worst of it. He was suspended for the remainder of the season. Legal charges were filed against Artest and others. Ron pleaded “no contest” and was sentenced to one year of probation, 60 hours of community service, a $250 fine and was required to attend anger management classes.

Most people pointed the finger at Ron. This was all his fault. He was crazy, uncontrollable. Commentators went as far as saying he should be banned for life. Fans wanted him in jail.

Ron Artest had become the Most Hated Man in Sports.

[pagebreak]

Fast forward to June 17, 2010. Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Ron Artest is the only bright spot for the Los Angeles Lakers. While Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were struggling to get any kind of offense going, it was Artest who was carrying the team. He was the leading scorer in the first half. He was playing great defense against Paul Pierce. With 1:02 to go in the game he hits what will probably go down as the biggest shot of his career; a three pointer that put the Lakers up 79-73. The best part about that shot was Ron Ron running back on defense and blowing kisses to the crowd. Classic.

<img src='http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2009/12/03/alg_lakers_