Christmas Day is always about presents, but the ante has been upped in NBA circles. Ron Artest recently announced X-Mas as the day his championship ring will officially get raffled for charity. As I mentioned after Ron graced ESPNLA.com On Air's radio waves and explained his thought process, the dude's heart is clearly in a warm place. I also expressed hope he'd change his mind, since it's so easy to picture "seller's remorse" at some point down the road. But with Ron remaining steadfast in this pledge, a Land O' Lakers reader offers a terrific compromise:
From "Shannon" in Pasadena:
"Whoever wins the ring should graciously give it back to Ron Artest. That would be the noble thing to do. The ultimate example of good mental health, kindness and charity."
Now there's a plan I can get behind.
Clearly, Artest takes his role as a mental health advocate seriously, and between his public lobbying and his infamous post-game shout out, he's likely making a difference in erasing the stigma associated with seeking therapy or counseling. That he would forgo his championship ring -- the ultimate symbol of achievement in his field, a prize keeping him so focused last season -- in order to raise money and awareness for this issue only amplifies his commitment.
That's also exactly why the lucky winner turning around and re-gifting the jewelry to its original owner would be the perfectly fitting gesture.
Just as Ron's willingness to part with the ring is a reflection of his realization basketball, fame and life is about something bigger than himself, returning the ring back to the guy who actually earned it is a continuation of that spirit. Look, I'd be stoked out of my skull to have a Lakers championship ring on display in my house. In my heart, I'm a Laker fan first and a Lakers blogger second.
But at the end of the day, this raffle isn't about the ring, but goodness. In lending his name to this cause and opening up about his own struggles, Artest has left himself vulnerable in a way many people, public or private, often aren't willing to risk. There would be no better way to let Artest know his efforts are appreciated than matching his generosity.
Like Shannon eloquently noted, it would be the ultimate example of good mental health, kindness and charity.
On a related note, be sure to check out Shelley Smith's article about Artest, along with the accompanying interview. Great stuff.