Ron Artest is focused on one goal – a ring. Got to love his desire and focus.
SI.com: Ron Artest pulled the door shut and speed-dialed his new best friend. “Kobe, this is Ron,” said Artest from the backseat of the town car that would take him to a beachside lunch in Santa Monica. “Just got out of the press conference. Holler at me when you get a chance.”
Artest had just been introduced as the newest and most incendiary member of the world champion Lakers, smiling and cracking jokes even as reporters showered him with questions about his past as a brawler, a rapper and a rival to Bryant. As the car prepared to leave the practice facility, a crowd of fans pressed in. “They want me to sign something,” Artest said to the driver. “I’ll only sign …”—he gave this some thought—”… four things.”
The driver lowered his window and took in a silver Sharpie and four mint-condition basketballs, one after another. “That’s four things, guys,” said the driver, but one fan persisted. He thrust forward a pair of vintage Artest trading cards, saying, “You can keep one.”
Artest signed one of the cards and handed it back. “There you go, guys,” he called out. “I’ll see you next time.”
Throughout the smooth half-hour ride to the beach Artest held the card between his fingers, glancing at it from time to time. Staring back at him blankly was a rookie for the Bulls, the No. 16 pick in the 1999 draft out of St. John’s, broad-shouldered but 20 pounds lighter and with no idea of the troubles that lay ahead. “He played hard,” said Artest of his rookie self. “When I look back, when I was younger, I didn’t really know how to play. Couldn’t shoot really consistent, no off-the-dribble jumper. Just a baller, and some really good defense. Great defense.”