Ron Artest guarantees Lakers championship in season that may not happen

Ron Artest, who will take on the name Metta World Peace in a few short weeks, has been in the news quite a bit lately for reasons unrelated to basketball. In addition to the name change, he'll be a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars" this fall, where he'll probably dress in funny clothes and do bizarre routines just like he does in everyday life.

Sometimes, though, Artest thinks about basketball. In fact, he recently predicted that the Lakers will win a championship this season, should the playoffs even happen in 2012. From Mark Medina for the Los Angeles Times:

But Artest guaranteed to ESPN Los Angeles' Stephen A. Smith in a 40-minute interview Wednesday that the Lakers will again pop the champagne bottles after winning the 2012 NBA title. Assuming there's a season of course.

"Win it all," Artest said when asked what will the Lakers do in the 2011-2012 season. "Win the whole thing. That's a guarantee." [...]

Smith then asked what can the general public do to Artest should his guarantee go sour.

"We're going to win," he answered. "You can do anything you want to do. Whatever you want to do, you do it."

Cool, I guess if the Lakers don't win the championship we are all going over to the World Peace villa for a night of decadent debauchery. See you there! I'll be the one wearing a monkey mask.

Artest's guarantee is a little ridiculous, mostly because the Lakers looked awful last postseason and have to adjust to new coach Mike Brown during what should be a significantly shortened preseason campaign (if it exists at all, no doy). On the other hand, they still have a very imposing frontline and Kobe Bryant. They may not be one of the top contenders in the league this season, but it wouldn't be terribly shocking to see them come out of the West. Artest is brash, but his statements here are less about unrestrained arrogance than the confidence that helps guide NBA players to the heights of the sport.

Most of all, though, it's nice to hear that Artest is paying attention to basketball in some way. In the midst of all this dancing and legal wrangling, at least he remembers what pays the bills: a sport that usually requires a player's full attention for success.

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