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Showing attitude shift from Laker fans regarding Ron Artest and Matt Barnes

July 29, 2010 |  1:57 pm

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While holding up his new Laker jersey, Matt Barnes uttered, "It's about time." He had grown up enamored with the Purple and Gold, idolizing Magic Johnson, following the "Showtime" era and hoping one day he could be a part of that rich championship history.

"This is a lifelong dream to be a Laker," Barnes said in his opening statement Tuesday at his introductory press conference.

That was evident. He immediately altered his Twitter page once he had accepted the two-year, $3.6-million deal. Instead of his Magic uniform, Barnes now wears Lakers' No. 9. Acceptance among Laker fans hasn't been as swift. Some still harbor resentment toward Barnes pretending to inbound the ball at Kobe Bryant's face, and some wonder whether he'll fit in with the team. That's why Barnes immediately sent out a tweet asking for some love.

"Quick question??" Barnes tweeted. "All those LAKER fans that hated me you rolln or yall still cool on me. . . Hahahaa We family now rite???????????????????????"

Some are and some aren't. But Barnes, being a lifelong Lakers fan, outlined the formula to win over their large fanbase.

"All those people last year that didn’t like me for what I did, that’s just showing strong support for their team," Barnes said. "I’m sure they didn’t like me but they respected what I was about. That’s all I ask here is to respect what I’m about and I’ll win a lot of people over with the way I play."

That prompted me to thumb through some of the comments regarding both Ron Artest and Barnes before and after their signing. This isn't an indictment on fans suddenly changing their opinions once an archrival joins a team. The comments below illustrate how Laker fans went through a gradual process of accepting Artest, then gaining respect for him as they realized the intensity that bugged them when he was on other teams was a reason now to embrace him. If Barnes follows the same formula and helps the Lakers to three-peat, most fans will offer sentiments. Before you read the various comments after the jump, answer me this: Can you think of any particular players that you strongly dislike as opponents but would love to have on the Lakers? I'll display the comments in a post on Friday.

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After Artest was ejected in Game 2 of the 2009 Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers

"MAN ARTEST WAS FUSTRATED CAUSE HE COULDNT GUARD KOBE THATS ALL THATS ABOUT . ARTEST IS A BUM" -- Bronx

"Artest clearly fouled Kobe, going over his back and riding him out of bounds. And the way he ran up to Kobe and physically challenged him, in a game as out of control as this, was bound to result in an ejection." -- Tom Daniels

Ron Artest was mugging Kobe on fighting for position on that rebound, he hit him in the head with his elbow then laid his elbow on his throat and Kobe should be suspend why? Then Ron Artest complains about being elbowed in an interview as much as he pushes and shoves and elbows people and now everybody from Adande to God knows who is calling for Kobe to be suspended. Please!!" -- Fan of the Mamba

"Before Kobe elbowed Artest, Ron pushed Kobe's back neck. Kobe just matched RA physical play with one of his own. RA could dish it out but he did not like it when Kobe pushed back; instead of playing on he cried to the ref, and confronted Kobe. What a jerk!!!" -- CTran

"Artest is repeatedly shoving Kobe in the head and neck with his hands, elbows, and forearms. If an elbow to the head or neck is a mandatory suspension, then Artest should clearly be suspended. And what's more, it looks like Kobe's elbow didn't hit Artest in the chest at all, it hits him in the chest!!! Ironically, if you pose it right at the moment when Kobe's elbow would have been in contact with Artest, there's a flash going off from a fan in the third row. I'd really like to see that picture. I don't think Kobe hit Artest in the throat at all. I think it's an acting job to try and get Kobe suspended for a game because he knows his team can't win 3 more games with Kobe playing." -- LongTimeLakerFan

"Ron Artest is a pure, unadulterated maniac! The only difference between him and Mike Tyson is that he's a little taller! And judging by that stupid haircut, a Tyson-like facial tatoo may be next! The media, particularly Craig Sager is using this poor, mentally unbalanced man to garner ratings. It's pathetic." -- bronxlakerfan

"Artest 'the whiner' ...yeah he likes to dish it out but cant take it can he? that was the weakest elbow, EVER and the guy was crying to his mamma runnin around like he had been pole axed. PATHETIC." -- raj

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After the Lakers acquired Artest 

"Ron is still nearly an All-Star caliber player, well worth more than the MLE, this is a coup for us, as it is for him, since he will now be living in LA, surrounded by guys he respects and trusts, and he will now be able to realize his full potential as a player, personality and person." -- Critical Beatdown

"Well, I was pretty hesitant on this one... But I have to say: Ron Ron will get Kobe open a lot. That's the plain truth. And he's been behaving himself, too. That's worth something. The man can play some D, which is what this team needs to keep improving." -- The Outlaw

"I'm much more amenable to Ron-Ron playing for us than I was a day ago. I question the pecking order of where Ron thinks he is (seems he might think he's Kobe's #2). Pau and Fish are #2s in the hierarchy of leadership and skill, IMO. Ron's a hired mercenary IMO." -- #4

"What?! WHAT???!!! Well, he's a nutcase but he's our lovable nutcase now. Welcome to your 2009-2010 World Champion Lakers, Ron. Do us proud." -- dave m

i just wonder how many games artest will cost them with techs or jacking up bad shots. they want him more for his D then anything else. the good thing is that Kobe and LO, assuming he's back, have known Ron Ron for like 15 years or more so if anyone can keep him mildly sane its these two. but remember how the rodman experiment went in 99 and the jr rider one went in 00- needless to say they didn't end well" -- tiger

"Don't rejoyce so quickly for Ron Artest. Trevor Ariza is just coming into his career, and losing him will be very disappointing." -- Bryan

"Wow. Didn't see this coming. Hope he doesn't disrupt team chemistry. Hate to see Trevor go. Once upon a time, the Lakers traded away my favorite player on the team, Norm Nixon, for somebody named Byron Scott. I hated that deal initially, but it worked out splendidly for the Lakers. Hope history repeats itself." -- bronxlakerfan

"he one big advantage that Artest brings is giving the Lakers a better defensive match up against the bigger, more physical small forwards such as LeBron, Melo, and Pierce, who have been difficult covers for Ariza due to their size and physicality. And he is a stronger rebounder than Ariza, which should help us dominate the boards even more." -- LakerTom

"Bad move. Artest is a selfish idiot who takes two many bad 3s and gets ejected. Ariza is a selfless hardworker who wins game with amazing hussle players and intelligent clutch decisions" -- Lukel

"If RonRon turns out to be a basket case - can you imagine what this blog will be like????? However, I really feel that he is going to be fine - maybe lose his head once in a while - but on the whole - it's going to be a fun ride!!!!!" -- DaveW

"errible move. Terrible. Terrible. Terrible. No repeat. No threepeat. Artest was the *WORST* Rocket starter in win-share contributions (0.3) during the playoffs. Unlike Trevor, who made his impact FELT with a postseason win-share of 2.2" -- latopia

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After the Lakers won the 2010 NBA championship

"Just gotta say Ron was the MVP of game 7. I'm so happy that he could fulfill his promise to Kobe made in the shower after Boston won in 2008. Awesome!" -- Extensor

"Many times, during the regular season, I doubted Ron Artest. I wondered what had become of the player that played for Houston last year. He sure changed my mind with his game 7 performance. Ron stepped up BIG TIME!!! TruWarrior Ron Artest!!!!" -- bronxlakerfan

"This was a surreal game. And Artest deserves this ring more than anyone. All year he was criticiced but when it mattered the most he delivered." -- Rui Guerra

"In the end the debate between Ariza and Artest is moot. Because what we have now is Queensbridge and we're sporting a ring with him. Ron isn't flashy, the things he does on the floor more often than not will frustrate you (whether you're the offensive player he's guarding, or the fan that's having to suffer through his shot selection) but at the end of the day what he brings is so much more than points, rebounds, stats." -- Faith

"I love this magnificent nut job! He made Mitch Kupchak look brilliant when most doubted if the Lakers had benefited at all from the Artest-Ariza swap. Turns out that one tweak to a defending championship team made all the difference between repeat and defeat." -- Guy Nadivi

"Oh Ron Ron, oh Ron Ron...last year, I couldn't stand your guts. You killed us with your 3pt shooting in Houston and you frustrated our Kobe with that crazy stuff you call defense. BUT I am so glad you are no longer the enemy. Many of us had doubts after losing Ariza who was so good in our last championship run but those doubts ARE OVER. You single-hadedly saved the game last night and I love you to death for that. I love your total craziness and enjoy your realness. QUENSBRIDGE in the house!!!!" -- EastCoastJessie

"Ron really deserves it. He's paid his dues, felt alot of folk's wrath, taken alot of &#*@ from us fans. He kept his head, worked with a gang of advisors and professionals and mentors and -- it all has paid off! Really a validating, feel good, story." -- t_sensei

"I agree I never liked Ron before but now he is one of my favorite lakers and now is a part of this team" -- islandpriest24

"That Ron interview is just too funny, what an odd duck he is, but in a good way! I had my doubts about him this year but he sure came through in the clutch." -- Art - FL Lakers Fan

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After Barnes pretended to inbound the ball toward Bryant's face

"Well, I hope Kobe would remember Barnes' arrogant behavior displayed today if they are lucky enough to meet in the Finals. I thought Barnes went over the top a bit with his aggressive plays against Kobe." -- Wallace

"Matt Barnes wanted his 15 minutes today. He picked a nationally televised game to draw attention to himself by talking trash to Kobe. It almost cost his team a win. Kobe absolutely torched dude in the 4th quarter and almost single handedly brought his team back from the abyss to steal a win. The last thing I'd ever do would be to talk trash to 24. Dude already has it in his DNA to destroy you, why give him more of a reason? I guess if your Matt Barnes and want to be recognized, you take a shot. What do you have to lose? Everyone already knows you're a scrub." -- Mikefloss

"Barnes is the kind of punk I would have knocked straight out when I was younger, playing at Vets park. The trash talking is okay, we all have done it. But digging your nose in my ear of faking throwing the ball in my face would have earned you a broken nose." -- troy

"Like I have said over and over again, these teams and people like Barnes get up for the Lakers and pull every low life trick in the book to win, but then a team like the Wizards or the Nets come in and kick their butts. I will be surprised if the Magic and the trickster Barnes make it out of the first round of the playoffs. hey Barnes maybe should take advantage of the summer and work on BASKETBALL SKILLS." -- Express12

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After the Lakers acquired Barnes

"Barnes will flourish in this system, he is a strong-willed player and defensive minded. These are the type of players that the Lakers need coming off the bench, he is also an above average rebounder and three point shooter. What other qualities would you want in a reserve? He, Kobe,and Artest never back down from competition" -- TNTLakerFan

"I'm not as thrilled as some about the Barnes signing. I thought we had the 3-spot well-covered and would rather have brought back Brown. Regardless, Barnes is now a Laker so I'll support him. I think Theo's a solid insurance player, he's been in the league a long time and he knows what to do." -- dave m

"Barnes may become a good player on our team, as long as he doesn't jack up more than one three-point shot every two games. But I don't think I'll ever be able to learn to like him like I did with Ron. Of course I won't take it too far and root against him. " -- PnG2x3

"I don't like Barnes but now that he is a Laker will hope he does well and by mid-season am hoping he has shown plenty of good reasons why we picked him up." -- Art - FL Lakers Fan

"I just thought of something that I think is hilarious... first Artest, now Barnes... is it already written in the cards that J.R. Smith will do something this year to show he really dislikes Kobe which is really his initiation to joining the team the following offseason? Just a thought." -- raiderlaker1980

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photos, from top: Lakers forward Matt Barnes speaks to the media during an introductory news conference in El Segundo on July 27, 2010. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press. Rockets guard Ron Artest is ejected by referee Joey Crawford after confronting Lakers guard Kobe Bryant over an elbow to his throat during Game 2 of the 2009 Western Conference semifinals. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times. The Lakers signed Ron Artest in the 2009 off-season and bid farewell to Trevor Ariza. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times. Bryant helps soak Ron Artest in Champagne in the Lakers' locker room after the team won the 2010 NBA championship. Credit: Wally Skali j/ Los Angeles Times. In this TV screen capture from Sunday’s game, Matt Barnes pretends to throw an inbounds pass at Kobe Bryant’s face. Credit: ABC / ESPN. Barnes agreed to a two-year deal with the Lakers on Thursday, turning down a more lucrative offer from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Credit: Elsa / Getty Images


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