A great article on Ron Artest!
SI.com: There are many things that Ron Artest does well. He is one of the best defenders in the NBA, a prolific scorer and an even more prolific Twitterer. But an ability to simply “blend in” has never been Artest’s forte. Yet that’s exactly what the Lakers are asking him to do this season.
In what was easily the biggest gamble of an NBA offseason that had its fair share of big-time wheeling and dealing, the Lakers passed on re-signing playoff spark plug and fan favorite Trevor Ariza to sign Artest with the hope that he would somehow morph into something he’s never been before — a role player.
It was the basketball equivalent of replacing the popular, yet still fifth lead character on a hit sitcom with a talented, yet at times troubled A-lister: Either he’s going to fit in and take the show to another level or self-destruct and take everyone down with him. In a town that loves drama, there won’t be a greater one this year than the reality show that will unfold at Staples Center.
Before training camp started, Lakers coach Phil Jackson didn’t hesitate when asked about the defending champion’s main goal in preparation for the regular season. “We want to try and make this transition for Ron Artest seamless,” Jackson said. “Our No. 1 objective is to get Ron acclimated.”
He is the only new player on a roster that simply switched out Ariza, a small forward who signed with Houston, for Artest, a small forward who left the Rockets for a five-year, $33 million contract with Los Angeles. Artest is a better all-around player, but he and Ariza couldn’t be more different off the court. While Ariza was quiet, shied away from the media and went about his business mostly unnoticed, there is nothing quiet, shy or unnoticed about Artest.
“Ron Artest isn’t only high-profile,” Jackson said, “but he makes himself high-profile in a lot of cases.”