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Ron Artest, On Contract Extensions and What Yao Ming Knows About the Ghetto

Jul 30, 2008 – 11:41 PM
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Tom Ziller

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Like 12 hours after news broke that the Rockets had traded for Ron Artest, our beloved enigma is making waves in the media, responding to some anxious comments from would-be new teammate Yao Ming. Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee caught up with Ron-Ron this afternoon to talk about the trade and Yao. A couple key excerpts:
We've still got to make sure there's still a commitment. That's the main thing, is to make sure there's still a commitment. When I speak to the powers-that-be of the Houston Rockets organization, we're going to find out how much they really want me there. We'll find out. I'm still waiting to find out if this is just a trade or if this is like a long-term commitment type thing. [...]

I understand what Yao said, but I'm still ghetto. That's not going to change. I'm never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don't think he's ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he'll understand what I'm about. Sometimes it's hard to get to know Ron Artest because I'm so down to earth to a fault. ... I can't wait to be putting on that jersey and be standing next to Yao Ming. I can't wait. I guess once Yao Ming approves it, I'll be a Houston Rocket.
On the first point: Artest can't block the trade if Houston won't talk extension, but that's not going to stop Ron from talking about it. He's completely unfiltered, as we all know, and while you wouldn't think he could say anything that would change Houston's collective mind, we do have 15 days before the deal can become official. If he gets too aggressive with the 'pay me' talk -- this is relatively mild -- the Rockets could get cold feet.

The Yao stuff is interesting if only because Ron talks as if he needs to impress Yao, to convince him he's OK. Honestly, Artest has reason to feel miffed that Yao brought up the Brawl today without prompting. Instead of popping off, it almost reads like Ron completely understands Yao's fears and wants to reassure him everything will be OK. It's an odd pose for a guy who, for the last four years, has done everything in his power to assert to those around him that he (Ron) is better than everyone else. Deferring to Yao, even at this early stage, is a big step.

Sacramento, of course, wishes Amick would choke on his word processor until this thing is final. No more drama!
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