Did Artest Seal Lakers’ Deal In Shower With Kobe?

Look, many of history’s major agreements have come to fruition as the main participants were bathing. Winston Churchill convincing FDR to enact the lend-lease program (bathtub); the Missouri Compromise (steam room); signing of the Declaration of Independence (Founding Fathers nakedly cavorting in local hot spring). Now comes news that the seeds for Ron Artest’s signing with the Lakers were sewn last year as Artest joined Kobe Bryant in the shower.

Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest

It happened in 2008, following the Lakers’ Game 6 loss to the Celtics that decided the NBA Championship. Artest, who was then employed by the Sacramento Kings, had attended the game, and afterwards burst into Phil Jackson’s office — which was off limits — to tell the coach he thought he would be a good fit for his team. Then Artest made his way to the adjoining shower area, where Kobe was lathering up, and walked right in to again present his plan.

Jackson recounted the tale recently on KLAC Radio:

“Last year after the devastating loss in game 6 to the Boston Celtics, Ron Artest came in our locker and walked in the shower with Kobe Bryant.  Kobe’s there taking a shower — and this is a locker room the coaches have, it’s off limits — so, Ron said, ‘Coach, I can help your team, I can get that championship for the Lakers.’ I said, ‘Well, thanks Ron, that’s very nice, I appreciate your sympathies. We’ll see what happens as you go through this year.’ Then, he walked out of that coaches’ area, and in to the shower and told Kobe the same thing. Kobe’s been knowing Ron’s intentions for the last two years … He didn’t soap down Kobe and he didn’t towel him off, I’m not saying that.”

Are you sure, Phil? Communal bathing would be the least of Ron-Ron’s concerns if there’s something he really wants. Anyway, obviously things went a bit differently in a subsequent bathing agreement with Yao Ming. The Rockets threw in a loofah.

But what of passing on Trevor Ariza?

“I wasn’t given the either/or,” Jackson said. ”They knew we had Ron on our wishlist for what, three years now? And, we needed a defender, somebody that was a lockdown defender besides a Kobe Bryant that would take on the chores, and Trevor turned out to be that guy this year. So, I was quite surprised, as was most of our fans that negotiations did not go well with Trevor and his people. And, we think that we have a player that has probably a little more dimensions than Trevor, but still Trevor has that youth and that speed that we’ll miss.”

In other words, I’ve got 10 NBA Championships, so I don’t care. Now I’m going to take a shvitz.