As we’ve seen throughout his Lakers career — all of a season and a quarter — Ron Artest is a generally benign fellow. Sure, sometimes he’ll refuse to shoot or he’ll cut a rap single, but he’s no longer the NBA’s villain. No, now he’s just a goofball who everyone seems to love.
That being said, when it comes to being a goofball, no one is a better goofball than Ron Artest. Rick Reilly recently spent 16 hours with Artest, and there are some incredible nuggets to take away from this story. Here are the very best:
[During] the playoffs, [Ron Artest] usually rents himself a Lamborghini.
Why, Ron Ron?
“I don’t know. I don’t know how to drive a Lamborghini, and the last time I did it, I had to pay them another $20,000 extra. So I’m not going to do that anymore.”
That makes sense. Why wouldn’t you spend tens of thousands of dollars on a car you don’t know how to drive? It’s the playoffs after all. Can’t be rolling up to the stadium in a ’91 Lumina.
Ron Ron will never get Allstate’s good driver discount. He hits the gas and brake constantly even when there’s nobody in front of him. Our sound guy in the back seat is turning white.
He favors right turns from the far left lane. And he’s always lost. One time, he left Milwaukee by car to go to Chicago and didn’t realize he was going the wrong way until he hit the Iowa line. “I need my GPS a lot,” he admits.
Oh, so when he says he doesn’t know how to drive a Lamborghini, he means he doesn’t know how to drive any car. Easy mistake to make.
Ron Ron is about to go into the shootaround at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo.
What time should we expect you out, I say?
“Well, it’s over at 10:30, but I always overtrain. I always start shooting after practice and I can’t stop. I need to rest, but I’ll probably keep shooting and shooting.”
“Because once I get into that gym, that ball is like a drug. When you see that ball go into the basket, that’s like one of the best drugs ever. I’m addicted, and I hope the state of California illegalizes it.”
Yep. Definitely going to use “illegalize it” whenever something that’s legal is made illegal. Perfect word.
Ron Ron is carrying a large bag of food for his lunch — all vegan. But Ron Ron is not entirely vegan. “About 80 percent,” he says. “I like pork chops.”
Good man. Pork chops are delicious. Though this does raise the question, is 20 percent of Ron Artest’s diet pork chops? I wouldn’t be surprised.
After a quick nap and three meetings at his house — for his BALL’N shoes, his ring raffle and his Beijing soul singer, Shin Shin — Ron Ron is having his usual pregame meal. A can of beans. “Beans are nature’s steroids!” he says.
But don’t they, uh, backfire on you during the game?
“Not on me they don’t. Other people, yeah. But I always blame it on the refs.”
All of this. Shin Shin, “nature’s steroids,” farting on people and blaming the refs, the fact that Artest eats a can of beans before every game. Just … delightful.
In the Lakers’ locker room, reporters want to know if Ron Ron will reject the shots of President Barack Obama when the Lakers visit the White House on Dec. 13.
“Oh, absolutely!” he says. “I will lock down anybody anytime, even the president of the United States.”
Classic Ron Artest and eerily reminiscent of his quote about the All-Star Game — “They better not put me in the All-Star Game …. I’ll be flagrant fouling.” No doubt in my mind that Ron Artest would get in Obama’s grill and lock him down. No doubt.
Tonight’s assignment: Check Tyreke Evans, the Kings’ best player by far. Enter Artest Logic.
“I overtrained swimming this week,” he said on the way to the game. “So I’m going to be really tired tonight. Which is kinda how I like it.”
“I can be too strong for some small forwards, so they don’t want to go at me, so I get bored. So sometimes I overtrain on purpose before a game just to see if I can lock a guy down with only half my energy.”
That’s some serious “Art of War” maneuvering, right there. Not to mention, Ron Artest apparently trains by swimming. Who knew?
As you can see, this profile is incredible. Those are just a few of the amazing tiny anecdotes that Reilly relays. There’s stuff in there about his devotion to mental health, why he lets guys go to their strong hand sometime, his drinking problems and basically anything you could want to know about Ron Artest. It is well worth the 12 minutes it’ll take you to read.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a can of nature’s steroids to devour before I begin my Christmas shopping.