Coming Friday: Artesting the waters for the upcoming NBA season


For Friday’s newspaper media column, just got off the phone with three TNT analysts who claim to have an answer to this question: The Lakers have the best chance at repeating as NBA champions if …

Reggie Miller: “Ron Artest plays like Ron Artest. Having played with Ron, I know how he can help a team. I also know how he can hurt a ballclub with actions that are misguided. Ron doesn’t have to do a lot. I hope he understands the pecking order and doesn’t think he needs to get the second-most shots each game behind Kobe.”

Chris Webber: “They don’t play the Celtics in the championship. The Celtics are the only team that can match their intensity. Some teams bring out the worst in other teams. The Celtics can find a way to get under Ron’s skin.”

Doug Collins, recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame broadcaster’s wing: “They stay healthy. (Andrew) Bynum wasn’t healthy during the finals last year, and it’s important to keep Kobe (Bryant), (Pau) Gasol and Derek Fisher fresh. Also, if they get better minutes out of their bench, and if Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar can help when a team with speed faces them.”

And about them Clippers …

Webber: “The question is leadership. If we’re honest, players do go there when they want to get a paycheck. But it comes down to leadership at the end of the day. Will the rookie get the ball, or someone else who feels his season is a waste anyway and wants to show his skills before the trade deadline? If Baron (Davis) is not the leader, or Marcus (Camby) is not the leader, it will affect the team and erode into nothing. They’re already on the ouside and they’ve been teasing NBA fans for a long time. It seems they never get that consistency. Last year was a disappointment and hopefully we’ll see the effort this time.”

More on that, the TBS/Fox conclusion to the NLCS and ALCS, plus more stuff that just can’t be contained in one blog entry…

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