Ron Artest's defense has been described many ways over the years: Aggressive... physical... relentless... effective... intimidating... lockdown.
You can add another adjective to the list: Homegrown.
After a recent practice, Artest talked a few minutes with the media about the origins of his defensive mindset. It's a style owing debts to his father, the Big Apple and, indirectly, the City of Brotherly Love. And as is commonly the case with 2004's Defensive Player of the Year, Kobe Bryant's name pops up.
Q: You said from day one, you've been about defense. What started that? Where did that come from?
Ron Artest: I guess it came from my dad. My dad used to throw me around on the floor playing basketball. Hit me going up for layups. You know, bruises and all kinds of things like that. He would score and I would get mad. That's where it started. I played the same way as my dad. I played in college the same way and in the NBA. I had to change up a little bit, a little too aggressive at times. But if you see my dad, he was a big man. But he definitely prepared me. And my neighborhood prepared me. I think that's what got it done.
Q: Was your dad a pretty good ball player?
Artest: He was pretty good. Pretty decent. Then he had me and he had to work.
Q: Do you remember your reaction the first time he knocked you down?
Artest: I probably cried the first time, and then I got up. Then he continued to do it, and then it was something that was normal, every day. Just normal to be hit. To play basketball, be hit and try to get stops.
And then the neighborhood. I grew up playing basketball on 12th Street. No crying, just play. I'm sure a lot of guys who've been like that. I'm probably not the only one in the NBA that grew up playing basketball like that. Definitely New York City basketball. Gotta give them a lot of credit. Playing able to play with men when you're young. That always helps.
Q: Where did your dad grow up?
Artest: Philly and New York. He's from Philly, so he's tough. Philly boys is tough. Kobe. Kobe's from Philly.
Q: Didn't he go to the same high school as Kobe's dad?
Artest: Yeah my dad went to the same high school as Kobe's dad. So in a sense, I'm from Philly. I guess you've got two players from Philly coming on the Lakers.