Kobe Bryant once silenced Ron Artest before the 2010 NBA Finals to keep the Metta World Peace.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Turner Sports host Ernie Johnson said he tried to interview Artest after the Lakers advanced to the 2010 NBA Finals with a win over the Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
Artest had scored 25 points in the series-clinching Game 6 and Johnson wanted to see how he felt about playing in his first NBA Final. Johnson said he thought it would be “cool” to see what the small forward had to say.
“So I’m standing with the Lakers outside their locker room during a commercial break, and I asked Ron if he wanted to answer some questions. But before Ron could answer, Kobe steps in and said, ‘No, you are not talking to Ron Artest.’ I said, ‘Why, Kobe?’ He said, ‘I am the leader of this team. You are talking to me,’” Johnson said.
When Kobe said this, Johnson looked at Lakers coach Phil Jackson who shrugged and said “Hey, he’s the captain.”
Johnson figured Kobe did this to not allow Artest to give the Celtics any bulletin board material going into the final.
“Kobe was not going to have Ron Artest as part of trophy presentation equation because, I guess, he didn’t want to give the Celtics any extra motivation.”
Artest was one of the most controversial players in the league at the time and it was no surprise Kobe didn’t want him near a microphone. Artest, who was the player that was at the center of the Piston-Pacers brawl in Detroit in 2004, was known for behind outspoken so who know’s what he would’ve said on national TV if given the opportunity in that moment.
The Lakers and Celtics had previously met in the 2008 NBA Finals where the Celtics were able to take home the title in six games.
Kobe and the Lakers were looking for redemption in 2010 and they found it. Los Angeles won the rematch in seven games, giving Kobe his fifth NBA title.