Former NBA player and champion Metta Sandiford Artest (yes, he changed his last name again) made a guest appearance on the ‘All The Smoke’ podcast. Artest talked about his long and successful NBA career with its ups and downs, but he ultimately achieved the ultimate goal and won a championship as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers back in 2010. Known as a solid two-way player who is mostly in charge of guarding the opposing teams’ best perimeter players, Artest had his share of battles against the league’s best players throughout his career.
With his length and incredible strength, Artest was a problem defensively for any player in the league. Still, he also admits there were multiple occasions where he got schooled by other players. He remembers one story specifically, and it was against LeBron James, a rookie at the time, playing in his first game against Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were a championship-caliber team, and Artest was in charge of guarding LeBron and slowing him down, but it didn’t go in the way he thought it would.
LeBron averaged 25 against me. When LeBron came to the league, in his first game in Indiana, I was so pissed. In the first game in Indiana, he gave me 25. He went to the fans and said, ‘this is your best defender’. I heard this, and I was f***ing furious. I walked the other way thinking, this kid is great, this kid is really good. I was super f***ing pissed because this kid disrespected me, and he busted my ass in his first game.Metta Sandiford Artest, via All The Smoke
Even though LeBron had a solid game against the Pacers, driving Artest crazy, the Pacers managed to pull out a win by 1 point. 18-year-old LeBron finished the game with 23 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists against one of the best defenders in the NBA at that time. That game was a good indicator for Artest of how good LeBron really is and that only the sky is the limit for him.
In the matchup between the two, Artest was strong and big enough to slow him down, but LeBron used his quickness, which was superior to anybody of his size. Known as a serious competitor, Artest would always do everything necessary to win. Still, he was never shy of giving out compliments to players that deserve it, and in this case, it was LeBron and his performance from the rookie season with the Cavaliers.