Friday, January 27, 2006

All About Ron Ron
By Ben Valentine

Apparently there are certain rules in sports.

I’m not talking about fouls or penalties. I’m thinking of ideas and cultural morays that are so status quo, we cannot challenge them, no matter what the facts or reality says.

For example: Michael Jordan is a saint. He cannot be criticized under any circumstances. He is the ultimate role model for young people.

Example Two: Derek Jeter is clutch. There’s no hitter in baseball who pitchers fear more in a big spot than him.

Example Three: Ron Artest is a lunatic and thus should be disliked by everyone.

But since I’m a bit of a rebel, and love to disagree, I naturally don’t buy into those rules. Michael Jordan was not the ideal role model, Derek Jeter is about as feared in the postseason as he is in the regular season and Ron Artest is not a lunatic who should be disliked at all.

In fact, I like the guy. And I’m not afraid to say it.

Artest is a damn good player. He’s a solid offensive player and one of the best defensive wingmen in the game. And if it wasn’t for the fact the Nets already have two All Stars at his position, I’d want Artest on my team.

Has he done some dumb things over the years? Yep. You’re not going to win over fans by kicking balls into stands or breaking cameras. And being the centerpiece in one of the most infamous brawls in NBA history isn’t going to help matters.

But let’s calm down about Artest being a “lunatic”.

Last time I checked, Artest became enraged at being hit by an object and rushed into the stands. I’m not here to re-hash that, lord knows it’s been done enough over the last year. But that doesn’t make him the first or last athlete, let alone human being, to become violent.

Charles Barkley once threw someone through a window. Is he insane? No, he did it off the court! So he’s the picture of mental health. Allen Iverson ran into someone’s house with a loaded gun. Insane? Nah, just the jealous type.

Kobe Bryant, in a written settlement, said he and his rape accuser had “different ideas of what the word consensual meant.” For anyone who’s taken 10th grade health class, guys especially, know that if the woman believes it’s rape, and does not consent, then it’s rape. Thus Kobe essentially admitted to rape in that statement. Is he nuts? No, just confused about definitions. (Hey does that mean he could be president?)

Has Ron Artest said stupid things? You bet. Did he fly off the handle once? Sure. But is he the out of control nutcase the press would have you believe? I don’t buy it. Even if you want to bring up kicking a ball into the stands or breaking a T.V. camera, is he the first person in sports to do either of these things? Certainly not. Just this last baseball season, Kenny Rogers not only tossed a T.V. camera, but also the cameraman… in warm-ups! But Mr. Rogers isn’t classified as nuts.

Where are Artest’s off the court problems? Where are the bar fights? The tussles with people on the street? In the opportunistic, law suit happy USA, you know Artest has to get provoked by idiots who figure they can get some cash by getting punched out by someone with his rep. So where is it?

Please don’t tell me that he “betrayed” his teammates and organization by requesting a trade earlier this year. He can request whatever he wants, it’s his right. What about when players don’t want to get traded and the organization deals them anyway? Welcome to the business of sports. If you want to blame anyone, blame the Pacers, who deactivated Artest and proceeded to drag this out by letting him sit. They could have continued to play if they so chose, especially after he dropped the trade demand. And again, not to beat a dead horse, but he’s not the first, nor will be the last, player to request a trade.

The latest mess came down with this trade with Sacramento. Artest reportedly did not want to play for the Kings, and the discussion was as if he had out rightly refused to play there. Never once did Artest ever go on record as refusing to play in Sac-town. He said he’d prefer not to play there, which is an opinion he is allowed to have, but said he would report if dealt. What’s the big deal there? He’s not the first person to say he didn’t necessarily want to go to a new town. Antonio Davis did it with the Knicks this off season after he was dealt from the Bulls. Did anyone whine or complain then? Was Davis called a bad person or a lunatic? No and in the end, he decided he wanted to play and reported.

Ron Artest should not be one of the most hated men in sports. He’s done nothing to deserve it. He didn’t throw his teammates under bus like T.O. or pick fights with teammates… like T.O. or call teammates names… like T.O. If you want to stick to the NBA, there are plenty of players who have worse off the court track records than Artest does; who have broken more laws done far more reprehensible things. How many times has Jason Williams of the Miami Heat been busted for drugs? Remember when Michael Jordan got in trouble for gambling? (and don’t tell me he didn’t bet on basketball) Artest is not someone who did something bad and was given a free pass, a complaint of so many athletes now a days. Instead he did the crime, and more than did the time. Yet that isn’t enough for some people.

Ron Artest had one bad day. Unfortunately that seems to be a day that’s going to haunt him for the rest of his playing career. And that’s just a shame.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think RonRon's a lunatic either. He seems more like a guy who just doesn't grasp the social rules that people around him follow.

That being said, he completely jobbed the Pacers. The organization did everything it could to help the guy, stuck with him last year when he figured he would be traded and then asked for a trade through the media. Maybe he didn't understand what he was doing but he crossed that bridge and subsequent statements by his teammates indicated that they weren't going to deal with RonRon being RonRon anymore. I can't say I blamed them either. The guy was becoming a distraction 24/7.

I hope he does well in SacTown, but his time in Indiana needed to be over.

2:39 PM  

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