Metta Sandiford-Artest, formerly known as Ron Artest and Metta World Peace, shared a pivotal moment in the 2010 championship run of the Los Angeles Lakers that changed his career.
Phil Jackson urging him to score more
In the Finals series against the Boston Celtics, Kobe Bryant was the usual protagonist for the Los Angeles Lakers. Everybody knew he would try to put the entire franchise on his shoulders. As expected, Kobe did most of the lifting offensively, such as in Game 5, where he scored 25 straight points. However, the Lakers lost that game, 92-85. After the loss, Los Angeles would sweep the remaining two games to win the title. Sandiford-Artest shared what went down after the Game 5 loss on the "Getcha Popcorn Ready with T.O. & Hatch" podcast hosted by Terrel Owens and Matthew Hatchette.
“Leaving the Garden, Phil (Jackson) come to me and say, “I need you to score” and I was like, "For real?"”
Metta Sandiford-Artest, ">Getcha Popcorn Ready with T.O. & Hatch
The Lakers won the title, and a big part of that was Metta’s increased offensive output. In Game 6, he scored 17 points, while in Game 7, he tallied 20. Sandiford-Artest was one of the main guys for the teams he played on before joining the Lakers, such as the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and Chicago Bulls. He shifted his offensive game from a heavy scorer to a floor spacer and became a defensive specialist while suiting up for the Purple and Gold. Sandiford-Artest’s mentality was to be ready when his number was called and deliver what the team needed from him.
Bryant and Sandiford-Artest had an MJ-Steve Kerr moment
In the pivotal Game 7, with their title chances slowly slipping from the Lakers, Kobe Bryant dribbled the ball, attracted a double team, and passed to a wide-open Metta Sandiford-Artest, who swished the 3-point shot.
Any Kobe fan expected that the Black Mamba would take matters into his own hands with the championship on the line. However, that unselfish pass to a wide-open teammate brought memories of the Michael Jordan era of the Chicago Bulls. MJ would take matters into his own hands but trusted his teammates enough when the opportunity presented itself. Steve Kerr was the assigned shooter for the Bulls in several instances where Jordan was double-teamed in the game's dying seconds.
For Sandiford-Artest, getting Jackson's trust turned his career around. His reputation in the league improved: from being a hot-headed and uncontrollable power forward to a reliable clutch performer. Current players need to follow how Ron stayed focused and ready, even if that means delivering the goods in cameo appearances. In the end, it’s about giving what the team asked for, and Sandiford-Artest played his role perfectly for the Lakers.