Before the Lakers small forward did his duty as VIP host of the Jamie Foxx-sponsored comedy show on Sunday night in Sacramento, he sat down with FanHouse to discuss the title run that was, the three-peat that might be and how he's handling the reality that he's more famous than infamous now.
Artest nearly shed a tear in the interview, getting choked up when he was shown this reporter's iPhone video of his family celebrating and his children doing confetti angels on the Staples Center floor after the Game 7 win over Boston in the NBA Finals.
The laughter came later, when comedian Kevin Hart tore into Artest for still proudly wearing his Lakers hat that reads "2010 NBA Champions" as if he was shooting his latest music video.
"We get it, Ron; we know who you are," Hart deadpanned while Artest chortled with the rest of the crowd inside the downtown Masonic Temple. "You don't need the hat."
It was the closest thing Artest has to a harsh critic these days.
Q: It's been two months now, so tell me: has winning a title been a life-changer or a basketball accomplishment?
A: It's been fun. I think I worked hard, but a life-changer? No, not really. But I think people like to have champions. They like to know champions, so from that aspect it has been different.
Q: You once said that you wouldn't care if you were homeless so long as you had a ring, that a championship was all you needed to be happy. Has it been that good?
A: To get that ring is something I always wanted. I wanted to win. There were times that I tried to win, but I couldn't finish the seasons (in Indiana). I always thought in my mind that I would have two or three rings anyways, so that's why when I got to that Game 7 I felt like I'd been there before.
Q: You've been going pretty hard since it all ended. How much fun have you been having with this long after-party?
A: It's been fun -- a little too much fun. I partied hard as hell. I was gone. But the good thing is that I worked out (during that time). Last year at this time I was 270-something (pounds), and this year I'm 255, 258. I'm totally focused. Like this (cranberry and vodka drink in his hand) is probably my second drink in like a month, and usually in the summertime I get (his drinking) in. I get it in every night. But I'm going to come in at about 245, 240 this year, and get back to that Defensive Player of the Year weight.
Q: Your bosses were pretty active this summer. You like the chances to do it again?
A: I think we've got a good chance, especially with (free agent signees) Matt Barnes, (Steve) Blake and Theo (Ratliff) so that will help out a lot. That made us better.
Q: You mentioned you have a reality show in the works. What's the story there?
A: We don't know what network is going to pick it up as of right now, but a lot of networks are asking for the show (including VH-1). I'm hoping I get a show. I know people want to see me on TV to see what I'll do next. I'll make it fun.
Q: What would the format be? Would it be throughout the whole season?
A: Probably for the whole season. It's definitely probably going to be me, (his) family, friends, all the craziness around my life.
Q: That show is a good example of what some people might see as a possible distraction now that you have your title. How do you keep from getting complacent and make sure you're not letting up?
A: Practice four times a day. I go from 9 (AM) or 10, 12 (PM) or 1, then 5 o'clock full court, midnight I do more work. Every day. Every day. And my schedule works around that.
Q: So the hunger is still there now that even though you got a taste of the championship?
A: I'm always hungry. That's the good thing about me. Every year I'm hungry. That's the good thing about me is I don't have to get any more motivated. There's nothing anybody can do to motivate me. I'm already there 100 percent. ... That's the good thing about being me. I'm going to work hard every day.
Q: What was your favorite experience right after the championship? You were doing a lot of things (like interviewing himself for ESPN The Magazine, taking up dodge ball via Twitter and soliciting random business partnerships through an outreach-style web site).
A: Mainly just being with my family, and kind of partying with my family. I never did that before. Everybody was there, and we partied together.
Q: Did you ever go back and watch yourself in the post-Game 7 press conference? What'd you think of your performance?
A: I loved it. It was kind of funny. I thought it was brilliant. I definitely wanted to have a lot of fun, and I thought I did just that. I kept telling everybody that during the championship, I wasn't having no fun. I wasn't enjoying it. And then when it was over, everything came out of me, and it was like, "This is how you're supposed to feel." It was just naturally happening, naturally happening.
Q: It had to feel good getting out all your thoughts and feelings on the brawl like you did.
A: Everybody liked that. That's honesty. That's why I don't understand really why the corporations aren't using me more. I'm the most honest person in sports, probably. That's what people want.
Q: So you're still seeing a real hesitation from companies to work with you?
A: No, not now. People love me now like that. It's great. I'm attaching my name to the Foxxhole show, and the Foxxhole reality show (that is in development). I've got restaurants opening in China and LA. We haven't come up with a name yet. ... So maybe some corporations are, but a lot of corporations are not. I just think I'm the perfect person because I'm so honest.
What helped me this year is I wasn't caught up on being a star. But that (championship) turns me into a star. That's what's crazy. But I don't care about being in the spotlight. I don't care about people saying, "Ron Artest you suck, and you're not funny anymore." I'd be like, "cool." But for some reason, it goes the other way. Before I always wanted to be the man, but now I don't care about being the man.
Q: How different will it be for you going into this season as far as your comfort level and confidence around this team?
A: Well the main thing is to play the same way. Stay consistent. Jab, jab, jab, jab, jab. I love the jab. That means don't try to do too much. Every now and then you throw the right hook, uppercut, but play the same way.
E-mail Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @samickAOL.