*Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest dipped into his own pocket to shell out $18,000 for two fans to sit courtside at last night’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The two $9,000 tickets were given away Thursday morning in a contest on Los Angeles radio station Power 106, but the winners were not informed that they were paid for by the NBA star.

LA Lakers forward Ron Artest (R) dribbles against Boston Celtics Paul Pierce (L) during Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Celtics at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, June 3, 2010.

When asked by TMZ why he decided to pay for the seats, he said, “Most of my fans can’t afford the ticket prices to come to any of the games, let alone the Finals. I wanted to treat a fan to something they would normally never have access to, so they could feel like one of the stars for the night.”

Ron added, “I feel like just a regular person at the end of the day, and I wanted to be able to share my first Finals experience with one of my regular fans.”