Monday, March 10, 2008


That right there would be a double reference to not one but two of my geeky passions, Superdickery and Futurama. I'm not sure whether passing off what is essentially stealing someone else's joke counts as a sincere homage or just makes me lazy. Probably lazy...lazy like a fox! (And there goes The Simpsons. Let's just move on.)

The reason for the post title, beyond allowing me to indulge in all that aforementioned silliness, is because I don't really think the thesis of this article has much of anything to do with what follows. Maybe the first paragraph right after, but that's it. And as a college-trained essayist (you know...bullshit artist), that bothers me no end.

The writer is a dude by the name of Martin McNeal. The paper is The Sacramento Bee. The column's dumb name is "Marty Mac's World." The NOW!!!!

Let's begin with the premise that Kings forward Ron Artest is unlike any other player in NBA history.

OK, so here's my question to you...what, based on that thesis, do you think the article is about?

A. An exploration of Ron Artest's skill set and how it is totally different from anyone else's
B. A detailed statistical analysis of various similarity score methodologies, including those developed by John Hollinger and Ken Pomeroy, and how they consistently show him to have a larger variance from the mean than any other player
C. A relatively standard regurgitation of various well-known "Ron is crazy!!!" anecdotes
D. About a paragraph of answer C followed by a weird Reggie Theus story

If you answered "B" - congratulations, you can marry my sister. Thankfully, she's hypothetical, so I haven't promised anything. Anyway, the wedding's tomorrow. I'm oiling up my shotgun, so you better be there.

Oh, and the answer is "D". For some reason.

The central figure in the league's wildest brawl was none other than Artest.

I guess, although Ben Wallace and a bunch of drunken Detroit fans had their part to play in that little drama. Oh, and I know I'm stealing a page from Simmons's playbook here, but that summation is seriously undervaluing what Stephen Jackson brought to the brawl.

No other player has spoken about taking a part-time gig at an electronics store so he could get a discount

For the record, that remains pretty much my favorite fact about any player ever.

or discussed taking time off from training camp to work on and promote his rap career.

Look, with an album of the quality of My World: Ron Artest, you'd do the same damn thing. But you don't have to trust me on this - All Music Guide, what say you?

Instead of just reveling in his ball player image, he wants to explain himself, his actions, and his thoughts. Although one can appreciate the sincerity, it's difficult to digest his less-than-able rhymes, not to mention the occasionally bland production throughout the LP. For example, the political message of "No Good" is handicapped by its sloppy delivery and the uttering of too many bars without enough recognizably rhyming words.


Also, since we're apparently being asked to buy into the crazy premise that Ron Artest is singularly unique, I think it's worth pointing out the following...

1. His skill set reminds me of Dennis Rodman. I don't think he's nearly as good, but there are some reasonable similarities.
2. The brawl stuff is also Bad-Boys-esque, with perhaps a dash of Kermit Washington. Also, Stephen Jackson was way crazier. Bears mentioning again.
3. As much as I love the discount story, I think Latrell Sprewell is equally cheap, what with his "feed my family" comments during the lockout.
4. Great basketball players trying and mostly failing to be great rappers is nothing new:

By the way, that's the best rap ever made by a basketball player. Holy shit.

So yeah, I really haven't seen anything that makes Artest "unlike any other player in NBA history." He's a character, no question, but he fits into an entire timeline of similar characters that I imagine stretches all the way back to when Dolph Schayes used to carry a shivving knife onto the court in case Paul Arizin brought his shit. Those set-shotting motherfuckers knew how to roll is all I'm saying.

To say Artest has made his bed and must lie in it for the remainder of his career is accurate.

To say that's a weird metaphor is also accurate. I'm not saying he made it up or that that's even completely wrong, but that just strikes me as an odd way to describe it.

However, to say Artest has been a constant distraction in the Kings' locker room this season is inaccurate. fact that Artest is NOT a huge locker room distraction makes him unlike every other player? You know who's a huge asshole in the locker room? That fuck Shane Battier, that's who. Also every other player in the league. Because, you know, Ron not being a distraction in the locker room means everyone else has to be. I believe they call that the Law of Conservation of Ron Ron's Uniqueness, sometimes known as the fifth Law of Ronmodyronics. All I can say is, if Artest ever gets tired of deriving nutrients from nitrogen and decides to start breathing oxygen...well, Andrei Kirilenko better start learning anaerobic respiration is all I'm saying.


Ha ha! You sure nailed Kirilenko! Yes, you there, the reader of this post! I should let you write this blog more often with zingers like that!

I'm sorry, I'm totally lost (but then, what the fuck else is new?). So yeah, your guiding premise is that Ron is unlike anyone else. Let's hear some more evidence to support this idea.

And that comes from coach Reggie Theus.

"There are times when Ron has what I call 'moments,' " Theus said Wednesday afternoon by telephone from Los Angeles before the Kings played the Clippers.

Way in which Ron Artest is unlike everyone else...Ron Artest is apparently five years old. Seriously...Theus calls them "moments"? Who other than a mother of a bratty toddler says stuff like that? OK, MAYBE the wife of a drug addict. The point is, it's all rather frighteningly domestic, the way Reggie is describing his relationship with Artest.

"And there are times when it becomes a little annoying, but would I call Ron a major distraction? No. I don't know what happened before I got here, but that has not been the case this year.

"A little annoying"? Why does Reggie Theus make me think he and Ron spend lazy summer days up in the treehouse, where sometimes out of boredom Ron puts a bug in Reggie's hair? And sure, Reggie thinks it's a bit annoying, but he's wise enough to know that's just Ronnie's way of showing he cares.

Honestly, this is pretty much exactly what springs to mind as I read this:

Dude, Reggie, I'm pretty sure the Maloofs would spring for a pony if you just asked them. I mean, they'd probably assume you meant some sort of exotic whore and/or drug combo, but I'm sure they'd also be happy to pay for the equine variety if you just asked them. But yeah, don't let Ron get you down. He totally likes you, even if he's too weird to admit it. You know when he dresses up in that cape-and-mask combo and says he has to avenge "wrongs", which always takes the form of him just practicing extra-hard "on behalf of that mild-mannered Ron Artest" while wearing the stupid costume? Yeah...that's just his way of expressing his crush.

God, I miss Calvin and Hobbes.

"I'll give you an example. There was a game we won – it might have been against Memphis, but really, which one I can't remember.

I find that hard to haven't had that many! AW *SNAP*!!!

But Ron had a moment, and it was pretty pointed in terms of him venting about something. Usually, when he gets upset, it's that he doesn't feel we're utilizing him properly. And sometimes he's right. But while what he says is right, the way he says it is not right.

If anything, this article is doing way more to convince me that Reggie Theus is unlike any other coach in NBA history, in that he's apparently a middle school guidance counsellor. Well, OK, so was Billy Cunningham, but even so...

"So, at halftime of that game, I felt like I needed to let him know how I felt. And it was a situation where Ron could have made it a lot worse.

He could have made it a lot worse, in that it's completely possible Ron could have pulled out a knife and stabbed Reggie Theus right then and there. You see, Ron Artest is a crazy motherfucker.

I mean, I definitely opened up the door for that to happen.

No, Reggie, no. Never blame yourself. You are the victim, but that doesn't mean you should victimize yourself. You are a good person, Reggie, and you're not responsible for what Ron does to you. The second you realize that, the second you can step out from under his thumb. Come on, Reggie. The sun is shining.

Basically, Ron shook his head, said 'Yes' and never said another word."

Hopefully, he was using that silent time to figure out why he shakes his head when he says "Yes." Many of us nod at that particular juncture.

Theus said many of Artest's "moments" result from the player's determination.

Man, it's just excuses, excuses, excuses. It would be fine if it was excuses, excuses, excuses, and proving how Ron Artest is unlike any other player in history. But all I've heard is a not particularly apt anecdote from Reggie Theus. Yes, you heard right! I question its aptness!!

"There is a natural competitiveness that you have to deal with when it comes to Ron, and sometimes I have to let him know he's gone too far," Theus said. "As a coach, you have to accept certain things from star players from the competitive edge side."

Right, from star players. Absolutely. Michael Jordan was legendarily nasty when it came to his competitiveness. So Ron is like other star players, which of course is a pretty elite subset of the average player, but still a recognizable group. Thesis remaining unproven, dude.

Artest said he got "heated" following the team's poor performance in a road loss to Miami last week, when he heard Theus discuss using the Kings' younger players and thought the team would stop playing all-out to win.

What precisely does Ron mean when he uses a term like "heated"? I'd like to think it involves stabbing. Yeah, I'm going to go with "involves stabbing."

"I play every game to win," said Artest, who was so disgusted following Tuesday night's home loss to the Lakers that he did not come out to meet the media. "I just sat in the back because I was (angry) about us losing. I feel like I owe it to Sactown, the Maloofs, the fans, my teammates to come out every night and do what I can do to try to win.

Aren't "the fans" and "Sactown" a little redundant? You just mentioned "Sactown" because you think it sounds dirty, didn't you Ron? Well-played, sir, well-played.

"As far as I'm concerned, if we're not eliminated from the playoffs, then we still can make the playoffs.

Ron, a fifty-win team might not make the playoffs in the West this year. You guys are going to have to play lights-out the rest of the way just to reach .500. Unless you can convince the NBA to move you guys to the East (and stranger things have happened...what the hell were the Bucs doing in the old NFC Central?) I think you might as well consider yourself eliminated.

And I can't stand to hear anybody – my coach, my friends, moms, pops, anybody – say we can't do it.

Mr. and Mrs. Artest: apparently not the world's most supportive parents. You'd never guess based on their son's behavior.

I know it might be impossible for other people to believe that, and I understand that. But belief is a strong thing, and I believe in my teammates, and that's what I told them. I didn't cuss anybody out. I did have a loud tone, but mainly it was a fear of giving up on the season."

A loud tone? Um, Ron...

1: vocal or musical sound of a specific quality ; especially : musical sound with respect to timbre and manner of expression

Thanks, Merriam Webster. I think you mean loud volume there. You're never going to be a true leader if you don't understand the power of acoustics.

Kings assistant Chuck Person stepped up while Artest was having this "moment."

"Chuck is like a father figure to me and always has been in my corner," Artest said of Person, who was an assistant with Indiana while Artest played for the Pacers. "He was basically saying, 'You got your point across; now shut the hell up.'

Admittedly, this article is doing jack shit to show me how unique Ron is, but it is giving me tremendous insight into his concept of parenthood. It's pretty much explaining everything.

And I did. But in my opinion, I haven't had any major blowups this season."

For some reason, I'm reminded of the words of Jack Herbein, Vice President of Consolidated Edison, when he gave his thoughts on Three Mile Island incident: "It's a normal aberration. This accident is not out of the ordinary for this kind of reactor."

By the way, between this and my other Three Mile Island reference in another post, I think I'm really making a push to have that considered the go-to nuclear disaster comedy reference. Because even I'm a little scared off by Chernobyl jokes. Fucking reds.

Lakers forward Lamar Odom has played with or against Artest since they were about 12 years old. "He's been the same type of player since he was a kid," Odom said.

Hell, he's been the same type of person since he was a kid. I haven't seen any evidence he's grown up at all.

Said Artest: "All I want is for everybody to believe in each other like I believe in them because we're all we have."

Quite the opposite, in fact. Seriously...does that quote have the emotional register of a seven-year-old, or am I giving Ron too much credit? Talk about your run-ons...

Unfortunately for Martin McNeal, overgrown man-children are pretty much a dime-a-dozen in the NBA (hell, in pro sports in general), so I can't really say that proves his thesis that Ron is the most unique player ever. That means, much as it pains me to do so, I am forced to award this column the lowest grade imaginable...



I know, I know. I'm hardcore, but you don't get to be a blogger by being soft. Now where's my stabbing knife? I've got an old-timers charity game against Bob Cousy in thirty minutes, and you just know he's feeling frisky.


Jeff said...

Ron Artest's skills remind you of Dennis Rodman? Both great defenders, and pretty crazy....but very little resemblance in terms of basketball skill.

Archie Micklewhite said...

Eh, not really. I was just looking for a superficial comparison - I think I'm a little affected by their associations with the Bulls and Pistons (not that I think Artest played for the Pistons...but he's certainly associated).

Honestly, I spent a good thirty minutes trying to track down similarity scores to see whether that held any water whatsoever, but to no avail. For my purposes, defensive specialist/crazy asshole was good enough.

Oh, and thanks for the comment! Good to know I'm not just randomly flinging crap into the series of tubes.