Fun with a Crazy Ron Artest Conversation

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By Paul M. Banks

The Lakers’ Ron Artest reminds me of perhaps my favorite all-time “Deep Thought” by Jack Handey. The series of ’90s Saturday Night Live aphorisms and witticisms once included this gem “If you ever know a mad scientist, the best time to be around him is when he’s going mad, but not completely mad- because that’s when he’ll throw the best parties.”

And since Artest is not totally crazy, but partially crazy- he makes the best interview subject of all NBA players. Especially when you consider his interview resides in a world of “we just gotta keep working hard, and work harder” and “I’m just focused on the team goals, none of that individual stuff.”

You might recall the recent Sporting News article where Artest was quoted “I use to Hennessey at halftime.” When I caught up to Artest, a former Bull, before the Lakers game at Chicago, this article was a popular topic of conversation, among the reporters that buzzed around Artest.

Artest answered a journalist’s question about the meaning of the interview article. “There was so much more to it, I don’t think you did all your research. You got to do your research I can’t tell you that. If you research it, you’ll find out,” he said.

Another reporter asked Artest what he thinks about being known first and foremost as a very colorful guy, instead of being known first as a great basketball player. “Do you know I’m on the Lakers? That’s a championship team. The most ever appearances in the Finals, do you know what colors the Lakers’ jerseys is?  I’m on the Lakers- like why would they ever want me here? What chances do I have to be here, and here I am, with one of the best organizations on the planet. So it’s not about what anyone else thinks, it’s about what they think,” Ron responded.

Again the conversation went back to the Sporting News article, and again Artest displayed an obsession with research that would make a University administrator proud.

“You need to research better, ya’ll take the easy way out, y’all woke up, you ate your breakfast, got an email and just read and that was it, you got to research more…The message was, I know you heard about all the shootings in Chicago and all that stuff ,so you’re a little out of touch, but I’ll bring you back in touch, the message was being able to relate to those people so when they see a Ron Artest, they see a guy who plays basketball. To the young kid they probably think I’m untouchable, invisible, but I’m not invisible, so we’re going to Detroit, Chicago, L.A., all the roughest nieghborhoods, share our stories and work collectivley with the youth- that’s the research you have to do,” the Laker stated. So behind all this rambling and circuitous discussion that sounded a little like a Charlie Manson interview, lies a very positive message. A message that we should all take to heart if we wish to better society.

So was Artest concerned that the message had been lost? Instead of people talking about his community outreach, were they were focused on his outlandish remarks, an admission of drinking cognac at half time and such?

“They was, they was. That’s why I get along with the media so much is because I understand: you don’t want to have the same stories, you have the same story, then you might as well all wear the same underwears, all wear Fruit of the Looms, you know everyone is going to have different stories. But I got to give some credit to the media that got the story out, some of them got my point across and got my story out,” he said. Hopefully, I did the same here. And I don’t care much for Fruit of the Loom by the way.

And then of course came the million dollar question- Did you go back to your favorite liquor store when here in chicago? Just to say hi?

“Let’s talk about that outside, let’s talk about that later, not in this environment. This is a basketball environment. This is a reserach environment,” Artest concluded. Indeed it is; social research at its finest.

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