Ron Artest: strange, mercurial, quirky, crazy, funny, verbose, eccentric, odd, peculiar, weird, all words used to describe the Lakers small forward, now in his second year with the team. Notice the words that are missing: regular, consistent, normal, ordinary, sound, sane. But none of this really matters. Ron Artest is an unusual man, one who makes people around him smile uncontrollably. They can't help but be happy because he never seems unhappy, never down, no matter what's going on. Ron Artest is lovable and the ultimate upper.
More after the jump...
In the summer of 2009, most people were hopeful that the Lakers would re-sign Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza. In fact, Ariza was the breakout star of the 2009 playoffs and Finals with his timely 3-point shots and amazing steals of inbounds passes. So the surprise when Trevor signed with Houston was fandom-wide. But nothing was more surprising than the immediate signing of Ron Artest, the guy who had just helped the Houston Rockets take the Lakers to seven games in the second round of the 2009 Playoffs, and battled with Kobe along the way.
What?! The Lakers are taking Ron Artest?! Holy shit, you've gotta be kidding me! My childhood is disappearing before my very eyes, with Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson all dying over a two-day span. And before I can get over my grief and wipe away my tears with limited edition sequined glove #37, I get word that we signed Ron "Tru Warier" Artest?! There is no way he's gonna fit with this team, in that locker room. He's crazy, he doesn't want to play, he wanted to work at Circuit City to get the employee discount, he wanted to take time off during the season so he could promote his rap album, he was charged with domestic violence against his wife and spent 10 days in jail. This dude is nuts!
Fast-forward to June 2010. Ron Artest was critical to the Championship run of the 2009-10 Lakers. They couldn't have done it without him.
- He was born and raised in Queens, New York, in the Queensbridge housing projects, and named after his father, Ronald William Artest. He is the oldest of three boys (younger brothers Isaiah and Daniel)
- As a teenager, he played on the same AAU team with Elton Brand (currently of the Philadelphia 76ers) and Lamar Odom, a fellow Los Angeles Lakers player.
- He attended St. John's University from 1997-1999, majoring in math (LOLWUT)
- He was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 1999 Draft (16th pick); he played for the Bulls for 2 1/2 years before being traded to the Indiana Pacers
- The Malice at the Palace occurred on November 19, 2004 and resulted in Artest being suspended for 73 games (regular season and playoffs), the longest suspension in NBA history; he lost $7 million in salary and the Pacers have never recovered
- His trade demand early in the 2005-06 season created tension with his teammates, and team president Larry Bird said they felt "betrayed and disappointed"; the trade to the Sacramento Kings went through on January 24, 2006
- He was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the Houston Rockets on August 21, 2008, where he played one season, helping the Rockets advance past the first round for the first time in 11 years (sorry Tracy McGrady)
- He signed with the Lakers on July 8, 2009, effectively swapping places with Trevor Ariza, who signed with the Houston Rockets
- The NBA suspended Artest for seven games at the beginning of the 2007–08 NBA season for his legal problems
- In 2008, he joined with PETA and became an advocate for spaying and neutering animals
- In 2010, he became an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, and pledged to donate at least part of his 2011-12 salary towards mental health awareness charities; he raised more than $500,000 for mental health when he auctioned off his first Championship Ring on Christmas Day
- He has finished among the top-five in the NBA in steals per game five times in his career (2nd in 2001-02, 2nd in 2002-03, 3rd in 2003-04, T-2nd in 2006-07 and T-2nd in 2007-08)
- He has led his team in steals in nine of his 11 NBA seasons, recording at least 100 in all but one (2004-05)
- He was voted NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2004; was chosen All-NBA Third Team once (2004); was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team twice (2004, 2006) and Second Team twice (2003, 2009; has been an All Star once (2004)
- He sponsors basketball tournaments four times a year held at Queensbridge Projects in New York City
- He once showed up for dinner, alone, at a Lakers fan's home after she tweeted the idea to him on one of his "What Should I Do Wednesday?"s
- He's partially responsible for the marriage of Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian, who threw a "Welcome to L.A." party for Ron, which was attended by Lamar; the rest is history
- He plans to play football and become a boxer when his contract with the Lakers is up; he will be 36 years old
- He and his wife, Kimsha, have four children, one of whom made him this hat
So, what do you know about Ron-Ron?