Less than three weeks after the parade, the NBA champion Lakers have already met the biggest threat to their throne.
They just won a title that would not have been possible without the strong defense and stunning shooting of a 24-year-old kid with a limitless ceiling.
Yet they send the kid packing for an aging nut whose greatest hits have occurred on the heads of fans.
They just won a title with a locker room bathed in the soothing light of unselfishness, teamwork and a quiet temerity.
Yet they cut the power and added the darkest of moods, a guy who has made a career out of hoarding the ball, the attention, and the anger.
Tell me again, why did they get rid of Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest?
Explain to me, please, why they wouldn't even negotiate further with Trevor Ariza before quickly agreeing to sign Ron Artest?
Artest is a better player, but that's not the point.
Ariza was a better fit, and that's what wins championships.
Artest is a strong defender, but if the Lakers need someone to quietly hound a guy during a routine inbounds pass and be willing to make a small play to win a big game, that's Ariza.
Artest is a good shooter, but if the Lakers need someone willing to stand in the shadows for three quarters and emerge to make a big three-pointer before disappearing again, that's Ariza.
Artest will supposedly make the Lakers tougher, but what is tougher than showing up every day and playing hard every play and fighting your way to a championship?
Ariza has a ring, Artest does not, so the Lakers are giving up wins.
Ariza is young 24, Artest is an old 29, so the Lakers are giving up age.
Ariza shot 48% from the three-point line in the playoffs while Artest shot 28%, so the Lakers are giving up clutch.
The one thing the Lakers are absolutely gaining here is money, which is exactly what you will be paying them in increasing increments next season.
Artest will sign a three-year deal for about $18 million, roughly the same annual salary that the Houston Rockets gave Ariza.