Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Here's a shocker — I'm excited for the new NBA season to start.

'Sheed Wallace in Boston, Artest in L.A., Vince Carter(notes) in Orlando, Shaq in Cleveland, Richard Jefferson(notes) in San Antonio, Ben Gordon(notes) and CV31 in Detroit, Hedo in Toronto, Trevor Ariza(notes) in Houston ... the upgraded rosters and intriguing storylines should make for another, dare I say, amazing year.

But with that said, there is one thing I'm going to miss about this upcoming season now that they're wearing the same purple and gold uniforms — those epic one-on-one battles between Kobe Bryant(notes) and Ron Artest(notes).

Honestly, was that not basketball at its best? Two ultra-competitive guys playing hard, throwing bows and talking trash about cookies and sailing. I loved that Lakers-Rockets playoff series.

Which is why I pray Kevin Ding and the other L.A. beat writers keep us in the Lakers' practice loop with as many Kobe vs. Artest tales as possible:

The Lakers had a long second practice of the season, and let me just say that in the action I saw at the end of practice, Ron Artest didn't exactly shut down Kobe Bryant.

Artest and Bryant were on the same scrimmage team Tuesday night, but they were on different units this time. Not too surprisingly, the purple-clad group of Pau Gasol(notes), Luke Walton(notes), Bryant and Derek Fisher(notes) emerged the champion among four practice teams. Bryant had his way with Artest in a key sequence, scoring twice inside, and then Fisher nailed the scrimmage-ending jump shot. [...]

Artest had a nice moment when he drove the lane, got walled off by [Andrew] Bynum and kicked to the corner for Sasha Vujacic(notes) to hit a 3-pointer. A minute later, Artest jacked up an off-balance wing 3-pointer that sailed way over the basket without hitting anything.

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