Sometimes, how you see the universe and how everyone else sees the universe is radically different. And it can be frustrating because you need elusive proof to show the other side you are right.
Lakers fans who have watched most of the team’s games see this team — and Ron Artest — in a different way than most of the sports universe is talking about them and him right now. Today, the world sees Ron Artest the distraction as being back — did he really drink during halftime of a game? Is he going to get suspended or fined for ripping Crawford? Even in the days before this incident, several national NBA writers suggested that Ron Artest may not be working out as a Laker, that the trade for Ariza was a wash or won by Houston so far.
That is the opposite of how Lakers fans see everything.
Back in 1916, Albert Einstein (after a dozen years of work any plenty of false steps) finally published his corrected version of his General Theory of Relativity — that space and time tell matter and energy where to go, and that matter and energy tell space and time how to look. It was revolutionary. It told Newton that the apple that fell on his head may have made him a little loopy, and wrong. (If you want a more detailed explanation, ask Sheldon Cooper, PhD.)
As with the proposal of any radical idea, it was not accepted quickly (even after his public fame had made him an icon the scientific community was not convinced he was right). Einstein was right, he knew he was right. But he needed proof to convince the world that things were different than they thought. In his case, he needed photographs from a total solar eclipse to show the bending of light from stars behind the sun. And it took years to get that, time in which Einstein took shot after shot. He waited patiently until those photos of the eclipse came, and the photos of a 1919 eclipse were divided into two camps (one said he was right, another wrong). It was 1922 before photos from the viewing of an eclipse in Australia proved Einstein right to the world.
Laker fans are sort of in the same place. Based on observations this season, they have a theory that Artest is a better fit right now than Ariza, that within the triangle and on defense he is exactly what the Lakers need to win it all again. That Artest is an upgrade over Ariza. Some people nationally disagree. Some skeptics even sort of agree with this, save for the “he’s going to go nuts and blow it all” theory.
Now is the first distraction. Except this is a Laker team that deals with the spotlight of Los Angeles — this is not really a distraction. My sense from being in the locker room is that Artest fits in, he is liked, and that nobody sees what he does off the court as mattering at all. This is a team that has been to the Finals two years in a row; they understand focus on the court when the media is swirling about. Lakers fans don’t see this as a distraction, rather just a funny little story. But that’s not how the world sees it.
Like Einstein, Lakers fans need proof that their theory is right. But like Einstein, they need to wait. The proof will not come until June, and until then there really is no proof that will convince everyone. The Lakers won with Ariza, the question is can they win it with Artest.
Lakers fans know the answer. They just need to wait for the proof.