The most telling replay I've seen of Ron Artest's bonehead three-point attempt with a minute to go last night was the one I saw on SportsCenter this morning. The SC anchors were silent and played the live game sound with no commentators. What I heard was incredible.
After Artest misses his first shot, you hear the crowd give the traditional "awwwww" and then cheer when Pau Gasol snatches the rebound and kicks it out. Then, as Artest gets the ball and lines up for a three, you hear an amazing crescendo of "NOOOOOOOOO!" from the crowd, right before a sigh of disbelief as the shot careens off the rim.
Why was this clip so revealing? Because even the fans knew Artest was taking a horrible shot.
Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of NBA fans who know their stuff. They know what a pick and roll is, how to detect a 1-3-1 zone, and when a coach needs to call a timeout. But there are others, and I'd say it's the majority of people in the stands, who are what we call "casual fans."
They are the ones who you hear saying "Bynum's so tall, why doesn't he just turn around and dunk every time?" or "Nash is so slow, why can't the Lakers stop him from scoring?"
Not to mention that this is the playoffs in Los Angeles, so the seats are filled with corporate hot-shots and I-want-to-be-seen celebrities, most of which have no idea which teams are even playing.
The point is...they ALL knew that Artest was taking a bad shot. I swear I heard the distinct voice of a three-year old girl whispering to her father in disbelief, "that's just a bad basketball play."
But, in true RonRon fashion, he shakes it off by making a great play to track Kobe's miss and finish for the game winner.
So, sure, sometimes we question whether Artest is thinking when he's on the court, and it frustrates us to no end. But the fact that he isn't thinking allows him to shake off mistakes and make the next play, something that can be vital in the playoffs.
So, Ron, this is for you...Queensbridge!