05/30/2010 10:38 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ron Artest Ready to Contribute, Not Distract Lakers in NBA Finals

It's time someone asked critics of Ron Artest's acquisition by the Los Angeles Lakers if they are ready to give up waiting for something bad to happen.

Doom was said to be about to descend on a group who just won the NBA Championship and boasted of great chemistry.

How could he not be a problem, they asked? He will destroy their chances for another championship, they said. And yes, I'm speaking about someone at the Los Angeles Times (Bill Plaschke), among others.

Other than an incident at Christmas when Artest suffered a concussion, from what he said was a slip and fall on a staircase at his home, he's given critics nothing to gossip about. Even a veiled shot back at Phil Jackson about critiques of his errant three-point shooting was over in a flash.

This is not meant as a way to ignore or write-off his troubles on the offensive end of the court. He is still stumbling out there and hesitant in the triangle.

Phil Jackson said it best when he described Artest as a player that needs structure to perform well. The triangle is more about freedom of movement and choices.

Ron has been craving set plays all season. In case he hadn't noticed, they aren't coming from Coach Jackson other than on an inbound pass.

But it's his temperament that has shown up the critics who claimed to know that he couldn't change. He would have a short honeymoon period they said, and when things get tough he'll be committing technicals and bringing the crazy like the old days.

From my perspective, Artest has been consistent from the moment he was introduced to us last summer. He is essentially a people pleaser if he respects who you are. And that is true of two important authority figures on the Lakers.

Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson are the keys to Artest getting a ring. When his childhood pal Lamar Odom got his in 2009, Artest realized the way to do it was to join up and follow. At his introductory press conference Artest said: "They are so confident. I've never experienced that before. They ask me if I'm ready for my ring."

He is like a new pet you bring into your home who knows his/her place in the shadow of the pet you've had for a number of years. Refuge comes at a price and for Artest it meant sublimating his ego and his tendency to be a distraction.

His utter joy after the buzzer-beater at the end of game 5 against the Suns is more reflective of how he really feels than his attempt during post-game interviews to make light of it. After the clinching game against Phoenix on Saturday night he tried to mimic his idol Kobe Bryant's nonchalance about returning to the finals to play Boston.

It worked for most of the time media was questioning him in the locker room, until he got a call from his son. A reporter noticed the background screen of Artest's iPhone is a graphic of the Lakers championship ring. He was busted and smiled after realizing it.

His teammates have his back and he's lived up to the trust placed in him by Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak. Now if he could learn the triangle, he'd be golden.

Paula Duffy publishes LA and national sports stories at