(NOTE: Explicit language ahead.)
This is part of a transcript from the second segment of the June 24, 2007, episode of The Today Show on NBC.
MATT LAUER, HOST OF The Today Show: Thanks, Al. Last night, the Sacramento Kings shocked the world by defeating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 123-122 in overtime to win the NBA Championship in what's being billed as one of the greatest seven-game series of all-time. Joining us from Sacramento via satellite we have two key cogs from that extraordinary championship run, the head coach Eric Musselman and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest. Eric and Ron, first off, congratulations. How's it feel to be the best in the world?
RON ARTEST: It's cool.
ERIC MUSSELMAN: You know, we're extremely excited to have gotten the opportunity to face off against a tremendous competitor in LeBron James and to do it in front of our home fans. The people of Sacramento are truly great, and they really deserve this.
ARTEST: Yeah, you know, no one said we could do it, you know, everyone said, you know, we're going to miss Bonzi. Well, we did miss Bonzi, but I bet he missed us more, because we got the ring, you know what I'm saying?
LAUER: Coach Musselman, talk a little bit about what Ron Artest means to this team. I mean, he's certainly been a polarizing figure in the league up til now.
MUSSELMAN: Ronnie is an extremely passionate man, and as a coach, you couldn't ask for anything more. I mean, in December, when he punched Raja Bell in the mouth because Raja Bell is a dirty player and an ass, that's the definition of passion. Ronnie hasn't always been popular to the pundits and to the talking heads, but he's always been very popular in his team's lockerroom.
ARTEST: And it's not because I be giving guys massages, either. You know.
LAUER: Um, right. You brought up that brawl with Raja Bell. This team hasn't been a stranger to controversy, going back to October, when you Coach Musselman were pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving. How was your team able to overcome these serious obstacles?
ARTEST: Hey man, that's old shit. Don't be giving Muss shit about that. That's old.
LAUER: Ron, we're on live television here, you can't say --
ARTEST: Don't you go calling me Ron, little bitch! I'm "Mr. Artest" to you, you know? An' don't act like I don't remember when you tried and hold me down after that shit in Detroit. I remember that, man. I don't forget.
MUSSELMAN: Ronnie, Ronnie, it's OK. It's OK. I'll respond to that, if I may, Matt. You know, I made a mistake, and I'm very regretful for that incident. However, I believe I've paid my debt to society through 50 hours of community service and a $500 fine, and I have learned my lesson. I will never drink and drive again.
ARTEST: An' he don't need suckas like you judging him, you know! And you call me "Mr. Artest" or "The Black Michael Jordan" from now on, you hear?
LAUER: OK, Mr. Artest. One of your teammates, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, has said he will not meet President Bush, as is customary for NBA champions. How do you feel about that?
ARTEST: Well, you know, Shareef's got his opinion and I respect that. Shareef's a man, you know. I ain't ever questioning anything Shareef does. He scored like 20 points a game against Tim Duncan in the playoffs, you know. Ever since we traded Kenny Thomas for Portland's first-round pick, you know, Shareef's been a man. But I, you know, I support the president. I'm going to talk some shop with him, about Team USA. Because I think I should get to try out for Team USA like everyone else did last year. I mean, I think I proved just now in the Finals that I can guard anyone in the world. You know, if I can shut down LeBron like that, like in overtime last night, I should be on the team. But I'll try out. I ain't got no problem with that. You know, I'm from the hood, I'm street, I'm gangster. I'll punch an Argentinian in the mouth, you know. I've done it. Tell me one player in the Olympics I can't guard. There ain't one. So, you know, I'm going to talk to the president about that, see if he can do something, you know. He's the president, man, and it's America's team. He should have control, you know.
LAUER: Do you think you'll get invited to play with Team USA this summer?
ARTEST: Yeah, I think after I talk to the president, Coach K and whoever will say, "Yeah, come on down to Vegas, Ron." And I know I'm the best player in the league, so you know, I'll be on the team. And I think Kevin Martin should be there, too, because he's scoring like 25 points in the Finals, you know? Every night. I think Kevin Martin should be on the team. Who better to represent America and freedom and liberty and red, white, and blue and all that shit than Ron Artest and Kevin Martin, you know?
LAUER: Coach Musselman, most pundits counted your team out before the season started. How much attention do teams pay attention to what the press is saying?
MUSSELMAN: You know, Matt, not a whole lot. I try not to read the columns too much. I talk to scouts and other coaches and people who are in the game, and I listen to them. But as a team, we try to ignore the papers.
ARTEST: And hey, you know, no one believed in us. No one's ever believed in me, you know? We never get anything handed to us. But I gotta say, there was only one pundit out there who said we had a good team and we could do it, and that's my boy Tom Ziller from SactownRoyalty.com! You know, he was like, I believe in Ron-Ron, I believe in the Kings, I trust them. He came up with my nickname "The Black Michael Jordan," you know? Man, that Tom Ziller guy knows what the fuck is going on!
LAUER: OK, well, we're out of time, Eric Musselman and Ron Artest of the World Champion Sacramento Kings --
ARTEST: Hey, hold up, before we go, I gotta ask, man, Matt, how'd you like my CD, man? You got the copy I sent you, right?
LAUER: You know, I don't think I received that.
ARTEST: Yeah you did, don't lie bitch. You know you got that and you bump it in the bedroom with your old lady, man, come on. You like that call-out I gave you?
ARTEST: Yeah, when I name-dropped you on the track. Hey Coach Muss, tell him what I said.
MUSSELMAN: I believe the line was, "Matt Lauer up on NBC, you look like a girl, don't talk to me."
ARTEST: Yeah, fucker!
LAUER: We're out of time. Um, thank you, Ron Artest and Eric Musselman. World Champion Sacramento Kings. Let's go to Ann with some news from the War in Iraq...
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