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|Ron Artest's coming-out party in Los Angeles began the second after the Lakers won the NBA championship and isn't slowing down any time soon.|
Midway through the second quarter, one of my colleagues said to me: "If Ron keeps shooting, the Lakers are done." [Laughs] Yeah, I know. I told him, "Ron's the only dude on the court who could treat a Game 7 like it's a playground game. Keep shooting." What was going through your head at the time? In my head I'm thinking, just play, and keep shooting. If that's the only way I know how to play, what else I supposed to do? I'm in the NBA for a reason. I know how I need to play. I don't know how to play the way others want me to play. I can only play the way I know how to play. And what happens? Game 7, biggest game, I got it done. Phil Jackson has ridden you about your quick trigger. What was his feedback during the game? Phil's a great coach. He said, "Make sure you stay focused, don't worry about anything, and don't get down on yourself." He gave me a lot of confidence. He was one of the major reasons I was so comfortable and able to play well in that game. In the fourth quarter, we just decided to play basketball and stop worrying about the score. Boston at the time had a major chance. But what happened was, Fisher gave a big speech in the fourth quarter, and it turned us around. He told us, basically, "Play relaxed and don't look at the score." We did exactly that. I don't know many people who would go to a club wearing a Ron Artest jersey. But then, after Game 7, Ron Artest goes to a club wearing a Ron Artest jersey. Full uniform, actually. You must've stunk up the joint. No time for a shower and change of clothes? I didn't shower for two-and-a-half days! Not since that game, for two-and-a-half days. I had my jersey on, my spandex and everything. I just wanted to keep everything on. I just felt so good. Why did you finally decide to take the uniform off? Well, that was all Chris Brown. He said, "Yo, Ron, lemme get that jersey!" Everybody now is like, "Man, why did you give Chris Brown your jersey, Ron?" Well, what can I say? He asked me first. [Laughs] Nobody thought to ask me for my jersey. Since then, you've been on Jimmy Kimmel, performed your new single "Champions" at Powerhouse in Anaheim, threw your own party in L.A. and rocked the parade while rocking a top hat. What was your highlight? Just being able to perform "Champions" and having people scream and having people like the record and want the record. I'm so happy I have this record. It's a good record. You know how much I love the music. I'm going to go all over L.A. performing this song. Yeah, until now, the only humans to hear "Champions" were your musical collaborators and the boys in your locker room. You started floating the song around the team midseason. It has since become the team's unofficial anthem. What inspired you to record it? Well, when I decided I was going to be in L.A., a guy I was working with said, "You're going to be a champion." So I wrote a song called "Champions." But it's a song for everybody. It's not just about basketball. It's not about sports. It's for anyone who wants to be a champion -- a champion father, a champion mother. Anybody can be a champion. After your first album, "My World," hit in 2006, you admitted to me that you weren't very good, but you've been putting in the time and you've been working with heavy hitters like Polow da Don (50 Cent, Usher) and Swizz Beatz (T.I., Eve). I think "Champions" reflects that. Yeah, my problem was I had no coach. I really needed a coach. Now that I have coaching, it's going to be a much better album. I'm able to tell a story with good melody now. Before, I didn't have melody. But you need melody so people will hear the story. It's like having pictures and colors in the song. Now that I have color, people can hear what I want to say. I'm dropping my next album at the end of the summer. You'll see. Let's look ahead to the offseason. What can the Lakers do this summer to make sure you all stay atop the mountain? I think, if anything, we need a mentality -- we need to know that we're in war. And we're in this war together, until somebody retires or gets traded. We're in a war right now. We need to stick together, from now until the war is over. Any indication as to whether Phil Jackson will return to coach the Lakers? I'm not sure. I think he's just enjoying his rings right now. The man is truly a gift. He's a gift to this planet, so to speak. He's unbelievable. Everybody loves Phil. I really hope he comes back. I love Phil. At one point does your summer game plan become, aight, time to get back to work? Oh, it's happened already. I started working out already. I'm not taking no time off. At all. That's cool, but I think you're allowed to celebrate just a little while longer. As a champion in L.A., you can write your own ticket this summer. What's on your to-do list? Well, I just want to make sure my single goes well. I'm going to perform for George Lopez tonight. I'm going on TMZ. I'm just going on different networks. That's pretty much it. I'm going to chill with my kids, too. And just get prepared for basketball. And I'm going to get back into music and record, record, record. So, aren't champions supposed to hit up Disney World, too? Naw, I'm actually going to Compton. What on earth are you going to do in Compton? Not sure. But that's going to be my championship victory trip.
Final question, two parts: When will you take the celebration back home to Queensbridge? And what will happen to that place when you do? [Laughs] It's going to be crazy. They're ready for me to come home. So I gotta hurry up and get there. They want to throw a little parade or something. It's going to be unbelievable, unreal. I can't wait to get home.