Shanoff's WUC: Thanks With (For?) Ron Artest

Today's Calls: Kobe vs. History, Ron Artest vs. Championship Rings, U.S. vs. Slovenia, David James vs. Robert Green, Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Stephen Strasburg, Manny Ramirez vs. Fenway Faithful, Tiger Woods vs. Pebble Beach greens, Jets vs. Derrelle Revis, Utah vs. BCS and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: You know who I'm happiest for? Ron Artest. ↵

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↵Yes: Ron Artest has a ring. ↵

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↵And Game 7 was a "Ron-Ron" kind of game: Not pretty, a little crazy. ↵

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↵Did you catch Ron's postgame interview? He thanked everyone. He thanked his psychotherapist. He promoted his new record ("Champion!" Recorded last June!) ↵

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↵In a decidedly 2010 touch, "Ron Artest thanks" was an instant Twitter sensation. ↵

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↵He thanked his therapist. (She apparently gave him the confidence to take -- and make -- that game-sealing 3.) ↵

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↵This is why the Lakers acquired him last summer, and why that felt like the essential piece to L.A. repeating. It is why Phil Jackson called Artest the Lakers' MVP last night: ↵

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↵Artest carried the Lakers through a tough 2nd quarter. He was the standard-bearer for the team's maniacal defensive effort. He delivered the therapist-triggered "Nonono-YES!" 3-pointer in the final minute to put the Lakers up 6 and stave off what would have undoubtedly been a Celtics' comeback. ↵

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↵Consider that a half-decade ago, Artest was the NBA's biggest pariah. Ron-Ron's ring -- and his starring role in earning it -- was the ultimate redemption. Maybe that was part of the relief evident in his post-game rundown of thankfulness. ↵

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↵But it wasn't just relief: His face was full of joy. And joy for Ron Artest is joy for all of us. ↵

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↵For all the hyperbolic buildup to Game 7 (guilty!), we won't remember how ugly it was. We will remember the Lakers gritting out a repeat. (And the unlikely way the Celtics pushed them.) We will remember Kobe earning his 5th championship. ↵

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↵And we will remember Ron Artest, NBA champ. (Cue that hit single!) ↵

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↵No, Ron-Ron: Thank you. ↵

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↵Is Kobe the greatest Laker ever? Better than Magic? Or West? Or Kareem? Let's put it this way: He makes it an argument. ↵

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↵What next for the Celtics? Was that the sound of the championship window slamming shut? After this admirable postseason run that defied all expectations, it is hard to dismiss Boston as simply "too old." They were a couple of 4th-quarter foul calls from winning an NBA title in a Game 7 on the road. So if nothing else, the C's have earned a status of being impervious to being counted out. (We will see what happens with free agent Ray Allen, who almost assuredly won't be returning to Boston.) ↵

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↵What next for the coaches? Will Phil Jackson be back in L.A.? Will Doc Rivers be back in Boston? Those feel like equally huge decisions as where the top free agents like LeBron and D-Wade go next month. ↵

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↵Looking ahead to the 2011 NBA Finals: It doesn't matter where LeBron or D-Wade end up. Just like after the 2009 season, Kobe and the Lakers remain the team to beat. ↵

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↵World Cup: U.S. vs. Slovenia at 10. This game lacks anywhere near the hype of U.S.-England, but is arguably just as important. Slovenia already has 3 points, and England will presumably earn 3 against Algeria, no matter who is playing in goal for the Three Lions. A win puts the U.S. in position to advance. A tie puts the pressure on. A loss would be brutal. ↵

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↵Be sure to check back at 10 for TSB's live-blog of the game. ↵

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↵Cup Mania: ↵

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↵Yesterday's Best: Wow, Argentina. ↵
↵Yesterday's Worst: Schadenfrance! ↵
↵Today: James > Green at GK for ENG? ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: Ubaldomania! It isn't just that Jimenez earned his 13th win -- keeping him on pace for 25. (I'll avoid the big three-oh.) He becomes just the 2nd pitcher in the last 80 years to win 13 of his first 14 starts. Who cares if he's been a little lucky: Embrace Ubaldomania! ↵

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↵More: ↵

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↵• Strasburg Watch: Tonight vs. White Sox ↵

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↵• Milestones: Pettitte No. 2 on Yanks K list ↵

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↵• Chipper Update: Not retiring (yet)! ↵

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↵• Streaking: Mets (7) | Tigers (6) ↵

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↵• Today's Best: Manny at Fenway ↵

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↵U.S. Open: This was not Tiger in 2000 at Pebble Beach. This was Woods shooting +3, Phil not doing much better and the entire field looking like weekend duffers while playing in those breezy conditions. The drama isn't whether Tiger is going to win, but how far behind he finishes when he loses. ↵

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↵Tiger Says: "These greens are just awful." ↵

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↵Most notable stat: No birdies for either Tiger or Phil? Never happened when they are playing in a tournament together. ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: If they weren't before, all eyes are now on the start of free agency, two weeks from now (with that little thing called the Draft to keep us busy next week). Reportedly, Amare wants out of PHX -- didn't we know this already? ↵

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↵LeBron Watch: Folks in Akron need to realize that no matter where LeBron goes, he will always take care of Akron. That's more than you can say about Cleveland. ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Nothing in John Wall's workout for the Wizards yesterday would suggest that the team will not make him the No. 1 overall pick of the draft next week. (But, wow, he needs better shoes from Reebok.) ↵

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↵CFB Realignment: ↵

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↵• Utah is now in the Pac-10, officially making the Utes a "BCS team." They are also officially the best bowl-eligible team in the Pac-10. (Bonus: This should get Congress off the back of the BCS.) ↵

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↵• Arkansas would like to deny any interest in the Big 12. Short of Jerry Jones paying the freight (not a crazy idea!), it would be insane to leave the SEC. But just that the Big 12 is in the rumor mill with the Hogs, what a turnaround from a week ago. ↵

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↵• Big East: So much for UCF and Memphis. Fun for the 17 minutes that rumor lasted, though! ↵

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↵NHL Offseason: If I was a Habs fan, I too would be ticked that the team traded away my star goalie. ↵

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↵Great Argument Fodder: Hard to complain about Sidney Crosby being the No. 1 athlete under the age of 25, but it feels odd to have John Wall at No. 11 and Stephen Strasburg not on the Top 25 at all. ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Speaking of "Best Under 25," the Jets are correct to pay Darrelle Revis whatever he wants -- that includes a nine-figure deal. ↵

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↵NFL Season Expansion: Players and owners can disagree about expanding the regular season to 18 games, but we can all agree that fewer exhibition games is better for everyone, right? ↵

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↵The Last Word: "Well, it's done. It wasn't done well, but it's done." -- Phil Jackson ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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