View Full Version : Another article on Artest

11-14-2004, 04:17 PM
Artest fills Rodman's
quirky void in NBA
Pacers guard not really a jerk
— just flaky, misunderstood
Pacers guard Ron Artest isn't really a jerk so much as he's quirky — a fun Dennis Rodman-type aspect the NBA sorely needs, writes Steve Wilstein.
By Steve Wilstein
AP columnist
The Associated Press
Updated: 5:59 p.m. ET Nov. 13, 2004Ron Artest, like so many poor souls in sports, is misunderstood.

His coach doesn’t understand him. His teammates don’t understand him. Fans don’t understand him. Half the time he doesn’t understand himself.

There’s an epidemic of misunderstanding going on these days. Maurice Clarett, Latrell Sprewell, Carmelo Anthony, Ricky Williams, for starters.

St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz tried to cut through any misunderstanding his players might have had after his stinging comments about their play.

“Nobody’s going to voice anything to me,” he said. “We don’t hold hands and get in a seance and (sing) ‘Kumbaya, my Lord.’ I’m not into that. We’ve got a direction we’re going, and you’re on the train or you’re not. Get out. Period.”

No confusion there, except that he probably meant ‘circle’ instead of ‘seance’ and ‘bus’ instead of train. Whatever.

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Try to decipher one of Artest’s raps in the locker room, never mind the lyrics he’s committing to a CD, and it’s tough for anyone to understand him.

He wants to be a musician, wants his own label. He wants to be MVP, win a championship. He wants to play, wants to take time off, maybe a few days, a month, a year. He’s a serious man, a man of responsibilities. He puts his family first. But he’s got to have some fun.

He loves the NBA, loves playing, wants to coach someday, work with the NBA the rest of his life. But if he wants to leave the game, he can leave. Why? Because he wants to leave. That doesn’t make him crazy. He’d be a fool, he says, to give up the money he gets from the Indiana Pacers, but that doesn’t make him crazy, either.

No, it just makes him a little more of a flake in the Dennis Rodman tradition, a quirkiness the NBA has sorely missed since Rodman hung up his jersey and wedding dress. Artest changed his number to 91 before the season in tribute to Rodman. Pacers president Larry Bird and coach Rick Carlisle no doubt thought that was a swell idea.

Oh, to have bugged Bird’s office when he heard that Artest, the artiste, wanted time off because he was pooped after he and his girls, the R&B trio Allure, finished their CD for his label, TruWarier. (He took the name from his nickname, True Warrior, in the Rucker basketball tournament in New York, where he grew up. Spelling doesn’t count.)

Bird was one of the truest warriors ever on the court, a guy who suited up even when he couldn’t straighten his back and whose idea of fun was playing “H-O-R-S-E” in the dark. We can only imagine him and Carlisle, his no-nonsense disciple, chortling over Artest’s request — once they stopped cursing his name, throwing paperweights around the room and punching holes in the walls.

There was that time last season when Artest told reporters in the locker room before a game that he wasn’t playing because his back was a little sore and he just wasn’t feeling up to it and needed a day off. A few minutes later, Bird strolled into the locker room, Carlisle went in, and they had a quiet little chat with Artest, something on the order of, “Are you bleeping kidding us?” Lo and behold, Artest’s back got better in a hurry and he was in the starting lineup.

Artest’s timing in trying to bail out on the Pacers this past week, just a few games into the season, was beautiful. Guards Reggie Miller and Anthony Johnson have broken hands, and center Jeff Foster is out after hip surgery. Forward Jonathan Bender, who missed the preseason because of a knee injury, has a viral infection, and guard Fred Jones has a quad strain.

Carlisle acted with relative restraint in benching Artest, as opposed to suspending him without pay, and forcing him to watch his teammates struggle without him for a couple of games. If corporal punishment were allowed, Carlisle might have tied Artest to a post while all the players took turns throwing basketballs at him.

Carlisle spoke of safeguarding the “sanctity” of the team by denying Artest’s request for a music leave. If Carlisle had given in, he probably could have kissed control of this team goodbye for the rest of the year.

Ah, but none of the players dared criticize Artest publicly. They need him now and they’re going to need him in the future. The 6-foot-7 forward was the NBA defensive player of the year last season and he can score.

When he played again Friday night in Philadelphia, he came up big with 29 points, six rebounds and five assists. He also was called for a flagrant foul late in the fourth quarter, but that looked more like the referee’s misjudgment than Artest’s fault. Or was it just the kind of thing that happens to a misunderstood guy like Artest?

Whatever. The Pacers lost 106-104 in overtime.

Artest stood by Carlisle’s side after the shootaround before the game and did not answer any questions.

“Brotherly love, brotherly love,” a smiling Carlisle said as they left the arena.

Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbaya. Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbaya. Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbaya.
Steve Wilstein is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at swilstein(at)ap.org

11-14-2004, 04:28 PM
Here's another article

Garden great place
for Artest to perform

Where is Ron Artest when the Garden really needs him? His extreme insanity would fit in so nicely with New York's most combustible band of brothers.
Long ago, before the artist known as Artest began channeling his muse, and before the Knicks began weaving unseemly stains into this once glorious franchise, a perfect fit was hatched. The Knicks would select the enigmatic manchild of Queensbridge in the first round of the NBA draft, and soon ticker-tape parades would begin forming at 34th St. and stretch across the 59th St. Bridge. On asphalt lots in Brooklyn and backyards in Westchester, impressionable tykes would discover defense was the quickest path to cool.

But some brilliant suit decided this potential affair was too explosive, too risky, and so the Knicks instead wasted their 1999 first-round pick on Frederic Weis. They might as well have chosen a blow-up doll. He got posterized by Vince Carter in the Sydney Olympics and was last seen muttering at his reflection in the muddy Seine.

Perhaps the Knicks were right; perhaps the flaky, infuriating Artest and his cloying entourage would have led the Knicks smack into a concrete wall of disrepair and disgrace. This is how those suits must console themselves in the smoky backrooms where the Dolans count their money and never stress over what might have been. Artest went on to an All-Star career with the Indiana Pacers, the Knicks' nemesis, terrorizing opponents as well as TV monitors. If he were a Knick, he might have been swallowed hole by the nightlife's glitz, and spat out like Kenny Anderson.

More likely, he would have made the Garden relevant again, instead of spinning his madness in America's heartland, where they will never get him, and probably don't deserve him. No matter how ridiculous Artest often sounds, no matter how silly and selfish he obstinately remains, the juice wouldn't be leaking like radioactive waste from the Garden if Artest were a Knick.

There was a slight clearing of the throats last night as the Knicks beat the Los Angeles Clippers, 110-96, offering flashes of normalcy. The coaches took their proper seats, without jostling or territorial stare-downs. Tim Thomas emerged brightly from his funk. Stephon Marbury, one who has proven he can come home without much ado, had 10 easy-going assists. And for four brief quarters, the flawed Knicks played aggressive defense and touched mediocrity.

"Nice to know what we can do when we stay focused," said Lenny Wilkens, still the head master, as he shook hands with Isiah Thomas, still not the newest head coach.

Wilkens has his clipboard full with a young squad ripe with potential but questionable in heart. Thomas is scouring the prairies for a big body who can add a burst of enthusiasm and anger. Coincidentally, anger and enthusiasm will be wearing No. 91 and using the Knicks as couches in his peculiar version of self-therapy tonight in Indiana.

It is possible to rip Artest the wack-job while in the next breath insisting he and his grabby hands would make for an ideal Knick. Anyone who dealt with Artest in the late '90s, when he turned St. John's into a maniacally delightful story, understands his toolbox is hardly full. Ron Artest is Manny Ramirez in baggy shorts. Even after he pocketed millions, Artest applied to work at Circuit City, so he could get the discount. On a country-blues single he released with a 78-year-old woman named Doris, Artest sings about his feelings for his dead relatives and shares his feminine side. Doris, by the way, became his music partner after baking him a cake when he moved next door. They've been tight ever since.

Doris would probably agree: little Ron-Ron again needed a timeout. That's essentially what the Pacers gave him after he requested a break - like, a month - so he might recover from what has been a grueling opening week. Like most New Yorkers, maybe he's still feeling post-election blues. Unlike most New Yorkers, he also wanted freedom to devote energy into the upcoming R&B album by Allure, the female trio signed to his fledgling label.

People who know Artest say there is more to this story, which has been the case since he first learned to pound a ball. Among other things, he is said to be wounded by rumors the Pacers were looking to trade him and, with childlike innocence, accepted but still doesn't understand why the club benched him for two games.

Jamison Brewer, a former Pacer, flashes a familiar smile when Artest's name is mentioned. It's the smile Red Sox players wore when they talked about Manny.

"I don't think there's a player in this league who wouldn't want Ron on their team," said Brewer. "I don't know the word for what would happen to the Garden if Ron Artest were a Knick. It would be like the biggest, loudest pop. It would be so incredible." Now there's a sound Knicks fans long to hear.

Originally published on November 13, 2004

11-14-2004, 05:37 PM
Artest is anything but "your typical selfish pro athlete" You can say a lot of things abut Artest but that is not one of them. Not even close

11-15-2004, 01:40 AM
Brewer's quote is interesting.

"Not a player in the NBA" that wouldn't want artest?