The odds of Ron Artest topping his postgame presser for the ages were low. Hell, the odds of merely topping his parade feathers weren't great. The man's been pulling out stops since winning his first championship, and there's only so much a man can offer without the aid of CGI. Still, some of us were hoping he'd go big Tuesday. Smoke machine to announce his entrance. A suit made entirely of cheese. Perhaps some puppetry or an animal act. I mean, this is Ron Artest, and he lives to entertain, right?
Well, even P.T. Barnum chillaxes now and then. Artest was fairly subdued and obviously in need of a little rest. Or a Five Hour Energy, but as he told us, "I don't like that. I'm afraid my heart might go fast, and then just stop. No Red Bull, either." Thus, our sit down was low on 'zazz. But that doesn't mean the Q & A was dull. The pride of Queensbridge is always good for a quote and provided several while chatting with us. Points ranged from the excitement of being congratulated by Alyssa Milano ("I grew up on her.") to his therapy sessions to praise for Derek Fisher, who he deemed an "All-Star." As he noted, do you prefer a star who makes 30 mil or a guy who shows up late in the fourth when the games matter.
There was also a lot of praise for Phil Jackson, who taught Ron to "play the right way." Artest is definitely hoping PJ reverses his leanings and decides to stick around as coach.
To me, however, the most interesting part may have come in response to a question I asked Ron about the genuine happiness people felt for him being in his situation. Artest initially focused on his strong Game 7, and the goodwill naturally extended as the result of his dagger three with just a minute remaining.
"When Kobe passed me that ball, he kind of blessed me a little bit," shared Artest. "He gave me the ball and I made the shot. He didn't have to do that. He could have gave it to Fish. He could have made the shot himself and did one of his Kobe "pull the shirt off" things. But he said, 'I'm gonna play as a team.' He shared it. He shared it. Personally, that makes me look really good in L.A."
True, but as I noted, the goodwill towards him extended well beyond Game 7 contributions. I noted in our postgame summary being unable to recall more personal happiness to see a player win a championship, and it hardly felt like I was alone. I clarified this to Ron, and he took a long, introspective pause before finally responding:
"I probably think just through all the ups and downs, just to overcome it. It probably means how I overcame. In this situation again. On the top. I was at the bottom and I went all the way to the top and that's probably, like, kinda interesting to people. Just to see how I did it."
Again, it was a day of understatement.
The videos are below the jump.