Ron Artest is known around the NBA as one of the best, if not the very best defender in the entire NBA. He recently emerged as one of the Houston Rockets go to guys (along with Yao Ming) and is helping them to a great record in the past few weeks. We’ve played them at home twice now and after our first game when I bumped into Ron, one of the first things he said to me was “How’s Corey Brewer doing?” Corey had just suffered a season ending injury and Ron wanted me to pass along to Corey that he hoped Corey’s recovery went well.
Then two nights ago in Minnesota some friends of mine came to the game and wanted to the chance to meet Artest and take some pictures with him. (and Yao Ming of course also). While Ron was shaking hands and meeting my friends his main focus at first was asking me how Al Jefferson was holding up after Al’s own season ending knee injury.
To me it just kind of shows what’s inside of Ron. On both ocasions, the first thoughts Ron is having are about other people and what they are going through. And it makes it all the more unique given that Ron is one of the most intense, tough and respected players throughout the NBA. I first played againt Ron Artest in college in 1999 in New York City in a tournament at Madison Square Garden. A year or two later, Artest had an injury and my older brother who was doing his orthopedic surgery residency in New York City was one of the doctors that initially met with him. All my brother could say was how cool of a guy Ron was. Over the years, we’ve developed a friendship through the bustle of the seasons. I guess I just hope that fans can get to know Artest for the community service he does and for his very real and down to earth self that he is.
On a sidenote, we lost to the warriors tonight at home. It probably wasn’t our best game, but aftewards I was talking with some fans who had come out and one of them said, “This is the best ticket in town.” Our owner just lowered season ticket prices for next season and now there are actually $5 dollar tickets at the Target Center in some sections! Another fan said to me, “We just renewed our season tickets for next season tonight!” It made me happy that even though some of our best players are injured, the fans appreciate the hard work and intensity that our team is showing. I guess that’s one thing that the Timberwolves can offer every single night: 100% Intensity and Effort!
Here’s a question I wanted to address from the “comments” section found below. This question is from Rachel. Mark,
With the word that just came down from Stern that Melo would be suspended for 15 games, are you surprised? Do you think that the punishment fits the “crime”? Do you think that he (and/or the others) should have gotten harsher suspensions and/or fines? And, lastly, do you think that the Nuggets and the Knicks should also fine their players that were involved?
Thanks and Happy Holidays.
Let me begin by saying that when we first heard about the brawl, we were at the Milwaukee Bucks game in Wisconsin. We weren’t able to see it because there was no TV in the Buck’s visitor’s locker room, so when we got to our charter that night we tried to download it using a Verizon Wireless internet card. We only got bits and pieces but the entire team was huddled around KG’s plane seat trying to see a little bit of what happened. I think universally, all of us felt bad about the incident and the players, fans and coaches that were involved.
What happened out there was wrong and I think that every player involved would tell you that. Carmello got the most of the punishment. Carmello also came out immediately and issued a public apology. (see below).
I think the NBA is basically saying, hey, if you are going to throw a punch, there is going to be a big consequence. After the Detroit incident, there was talk of doing away with courtside seating. Personally, I think that the courtside seating is one of the biggest differentiators between NBA games and most other major sports leagues.
As far as each team fining their own players, that could get awkward for a few reasons. First the player is already getting fined a huge sum because they go on “unpaid” leave from all games. Secondly, their punishment in the media is incalculable. It would be tough for a GM to come into the locker room and give the player a third tier of punishment. That’s just my opinion though.
Here is Carmello’s public apology:
“Last night’s altercation with the Knicks escalated further than it should have. I take full responsibility for my actions in the matter. In the heat of the moment I let my emotions get the best of me. I apologize to the fans, the Denver Nuggets, the NBA, my mother, and my family for the embarrassment I have caused them. I ask you all for your forgiveness.
I also want to make a personal apology to Mardy Collins and his family. My actions were inexcusable, and I am sorry for making this an even more embarrassing situation.
What makes this all the more painful is that this was one of the most important weeks of my life. I just realized one of my biggest dreams when we opened the Youth Center in Baltimore that bares (sic) my name. To see the community excited and hundreds of kids smiling was an incredible feeling. Now the thought of thousands of kids seeing this incident on TV pains me. This is not the example I want to set.
It’s my hope that we work to move forward from this event, and never let something like this happen again.”