It's rare when I have any personal stake in the outcome of the NBA Finals.
I'm 32 years deep in the business, but since I didn't cover the series, it's easy to admit I was rooting hard for the Los Angeles Lakers. There were too many people forecasting doom for the Lakers because they had Ron Artest.
There are many folks who believe Artest to be a bad dude. They believed he'd bring a negative persona to the Lakers that would prevent from winning a title.
Those same folks are the types who would root against L.A. just so they'd be right about their predictions.
You know, true haters.
Some are the type who will never understand Artest or a kid like him in part because they've rarely been around black folks.
I can't blame the haters totally because society's boundaries, visible and invisible, can make it difficult for natural, real and true interaction.
Excluding racial barriers, it's long been my mentality New York City is as racially divided and segregated by neighborhood as any city in which I've been. Forget that melting pot moniker. Yes, there are many types of folks in the city, but often times, their respective neighborhoods are segregated.
'If you are not from there, often times you shouldn't be there.' That was our credo growing up in Jamaica, Queens.
Perhaps the haters never have been around folks like Artest, who is definitely a different breed. There are not many guys anywhere like him.
However, then again, there are guys with personality similarities with whom I (and I suspect) you grew up.
Ron-Ron would have been described as 'crazy' and everyone would know exactly what was meant. He's unpredictable, quirky, sometimes wild and uncontrollable, yet not deemed as dangerous.
Some never will understand the Nov. 20, 2004 night when Artest, then a member of the Indiana Pacers, went into the stands in Auburn Hills, Mi. following a brawl instigated by Detroit's Ben Wallace.
Personally, I understood him losing it when he was laying on the press table and was hit by a cup of ice and liquid. Running into the stands not knowing who threw the cup was stupid, but semi-understandable.
Some can't comprehend Artest wrecking a couple of TV monitors at Madison Square Garden.
Artest, generally speaking, isn't to be messed with. Yet, his teammates have loved him at every stop, including L.A., now. That's because he competes and has major heart.
When the Lakers played Boston in 2008, it was easy to quietly hope Eddie House, then coming off the bench for the Celtics got a ring.
That's because he's a good dude, like Ron-Ron - just nowhere nearly as 'crazy.'
If nothing else, everyone should thank Artest for that post-game press conference, the best-ever, never to be bettered.
Kings and Sixers swap centers and unwanted
The Sacramento Kings and Philadelphia 76ers had tired of centers Spencer Hawes and Samuel Dalembert, respectively. So the Kings included disgruntled forward Andres Nocioni and the deal was done.
In Hawes, Philadelphia received a skilled shooter, who specializes in drifting to the perimeter instead of using his array of low-post moves to provide the threat of which most teams dream.
Dalembert, 29, brings shot-blocking, athleticism and rebounding to the Kings, who desperately need each quality.
Nocioni did not want to be in Sacramento any more than the Kings wanted him. He's a good three-point shooter, but he's going from one bad situation to another. It's difficult to imagine him being happy for long, if at all.
Both moves allowed each team to exchange salaries. Hawes is in the final year of his contract, so he'll be looking to get paid at the end of this season.
Perhaps Hawes can develop toughness over the years. L.A.'s Pau Gasol did, even if he gets knocked down more than any star in recent memory.