Hey, who was that tall guy cavorting in the Toyota Center stands last night, being offered a (non-flying) beer as the Rockets eliminated the Blazers in 6 games? Could it be that one-time pariah Ron Artest’s image rehab is now complete? In the words of Indy Cornrows’ BigBlueShoe, “Despite The Brawl’; despite the suspensions; despite the nasty words and harsh statements Artest made about the Pacers following his re-reinstatement; despite the trade to Sacramento and the years of losing…despite his many flaws, Ronnie is someone you root for.”

Maybe, last night’s little moment will help heal the self-inflicted wounds “The Brawl” left on the NBA. For me personally, as long as David Stern is still running the NBA, it won’t receive a dime from me. If the Brawl taught us anything, it taught us that the NBA is not interested in protecting its small market teams. It taught us that David Stern is more interested in assessing blame and deflecting criticism than actually working to solve the problems of the NBA, a league in serious financial trouble right now.

In the end, it might all turn out rosy. Ronnie is helping the Rockets make a playoff push. Rick Carlisle is coaching the Mavericks to success. The Pacers are young, exciting, and rebuilding a positive image. Remember, it was Ron Artest who said, many moons ago, that Danny Granger was a stud. Meanwhile, Detroit never won another championship after 2004. They are now in full rebuilding mode after getting swept by the Cavaliers in the playoffs. They have Allen Iverson sulking on their bench, and both the franchise and the city of Detroit are in a financial crisis.

So maybe, in the end, karma comes back to bite the asshats in the crotch after all.

Whoa, relishing the fall of a divisional rival is one thing, but delight over the city of Detroit’s fiscal problems? Flagrant foul on Mr. Shoe.