Last night I was reading a column from J.A. Adande where he argued that these days, we don't embrace outspoken athletes:
Someone else needs to step to the podium. There's a veracity deficit in the NBA right now. We're a full decade removed from the playing days of Charles Barkley and Dennis Rodman, and we're apparently heading into our first full season without Allen Iverson since he entered the league in 1996. The reason they all held so much appeal beyond their basketball abilities was they were unafraid of openness. Barkley gave us his opinions, Rodman his oddball counter, Iverson his raw feelings.
It was a good column, and an important point to make. But how could he not mention Ron Artest? I mean... He's THE outspoken athlete. Raw? Honest? Blissfully insane? Ronnnn Arrrrrrrtest.
Yesterday, Artest was asked about Kevin Durant:
"He's the second best player in the NBA. Kobe's got five rings, six game winners [last season], 23-straight points in [Game 5 of the Finals] off mostly jump shots," Artest elaborated. "[He's] the biggest shot maker, big shot maker. So, that said, Durant's the second best player in the NBA."
Hold on: What about LeBron James?
"I only count to two," Artest said.
You want someone who's going to be honest in every interview he ever gives? Someone who's going to speak out when everybody else remains silent? Somebody that's painfully human, and vulnerable enough to connect with fans all across America? That's exactly who Ron Artest has become.
While everyone else plays political with LeBron James and the Heat, Ron Artest isn't afraid to come right out and pretend he doesn't exist. What more do we want? He's like a slightly schizophrenic Charles Barkley. A more endearing Allen Iverson. A grittier Gilbert Arenas.
Whatever he is, he's ours. And while I understand Adande's point, let's not forget about Ron-Ron.
P.S. He's also giving away his Lakers championship ring:
Artest is definitely going through with giving away his ring. He wears size 14 ring, but ordered it in a size 11 so it would fit more people
P.P.S. He's also a genuinely good person. And we once watched porn together.