A day after the Rockets and Sacramento Kings agreed in principle to a deal sending Artest to Houston for Bobby Jackson, Donte Greene and a first-round draft pick, Yao expressed concerns about team chemistry to the Houston Chronicle and referenced Artest's involvement in the 2004 brawl with Pistons fans.
"Hopefully, he's not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands," Yao said, according to the Chronicle.
When asked about those comments, Artest said Yao had bought into "all the propaganda" about him, according to The Sacramento Bee.
"I understand what Yao said, but I'm still ghetto," Artest said, according to the report. "That's not going to change. I'm never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don't think he's ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he'll understand what I'm about.
"If you go back to the brawl, that's a culture issue right there," Artest added, according to the report. "Somebody was disrespecting me, so he's got to understand where I'm coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed."
The agreed-to deal sending Artest to Houston cannot become official until Aug. 14. And Artest, who has one year remaining on his contract, also said he was looking for a long-term deal from the Rockets, according to the report.
"We've still got to make sure there's still a commitment [from the Rockets]," Artest said, according to the Bee. "That's the main thing, is to make sure there's still a commitment. When I speak to the powers-that-be of the Houston Rockets' organization, we're going to find out how much they really want me there. We'll find out. I'm still waiting to find out if this is just a trade or if this is like a long-term commitment-type thing. I haven't spoken to anybody yet. I'm still waiting."
That appeared to be a shift in Artest's outlook from earlier Wednesday, when he told ESPN.com of the trade, "I'll be a kid in a candy store … I'm going to dance with the stars."
He also said he's waiting for a phone call from Yao, according to the Bee.
"I guess once Yao Ming approves [the deal], I'll be a Houston Rocket," Artest said, according to the report. "[Yao] probably should've called me first. But at the same time, it's Yao Ming's team.
"Whatever Yao Ming wants me to do, I'll be there. Whatever Tracy McGrady tells me to do, that's how it's going to go down. Ultimately, whatever [Rockets] coach Rick Adelman tells me to do is exactly what I'm going to do."