If you’ve ever seen the movie Being John Malkovich, you know that it was one wild and crazy ride. If not, you owe it to yourself to buy it, rent it, stream it or download it by any means necessary.
Without giving too much away, the films’ premise follows John Cusack as he discovers a portal into the head (consciousness?) of famed actor John Malkovich. What ensues is nothing short of bizarre, if not entertaining.
Which brings me to Ron Artest.
In the spirit of the film, ESPN’s own Rick Riley recently spent a day inside the mind of Lakers forward and defensive powerhouse, Ron Artest. And while he didn’t stumble upon a magical portal into Artest’s head, he might as well have.
The journey was at once head scratching, funny and what impacted me the most—poignant.
As ever, Ron’s childlike innocence and willingness to do and say anything and everything mostly without a filter is fascinating and hilarious.
A few excerpts:
11:42 a.m.: Ron Ron is carrying a large bag of food for his lunch—all vegan. But Ron Ron is not entirely vegan. "About 80 percent," he says. "I like pork chops."
LMAO, seriously. This is classic Ron.
Not to mention it reminds me of the time I stopped eating pork and red meat for three years. When my father found out, he immediately said to me, “Once the pig is in you, it’s in you for life.” Maybe dad was right—Ron seems to think so.
Said Riley: “Ron Ron has planned three post-basketball careers: Record producer, Boxer and NFL tight end."
"How's he going to do that?" says Ron's coach with the Lakers, Phil Jackson. "He's got a contract with us through 2014!"
Ron Ron is undeterred: "I always follow my plan 100 percent, even if I know I'm going to fail."
Artest Logic. Get used to it.
What?!? Everyone who’s anyone knows that simple logic dictates that if a plan is not working, it’s subject modification or scrapped in favor of it a new plan altogether—that’s common sense.
Something (apparently) Artest doesn’t always subscribe to.
Credit Riley with coining a phrase that I believe is going to get a lot of use—Artest Logic.
From the moment Artest gave us the stream of consciousness unadulterated celebratory rant after the Lakers' victory against the Celtics in the 2010 finals, I’ve been a fan.
Artest’s play has always been something to marvel at—a hard nosed, if tortured lock down defender that has stifled and/or scared players from all five positions on the court.
However, because of the way he exists on and off the court, many have and continue to wonder not if, but when he will become unhinged.
And therein lies the beauty of Riley’s piece: In a single day, we are privy to all of Ron Artest’s quirks, foibles and his heart.
Riley writes: “Artest is very big on counseling. He gets parental counseling, marriage counseling, anger counseling and personal counseling. Artest is such a fan of psychiatry that he's raffling off the $26,000 championship ring he won to pay for school psychiatry. So far, the raffle—go to RonArtest.com—has raised nearly half a million dollars."
"When I told my mom, she got real pissed at me," he says. "My dad, too. And my brother. And my wife. They said, 'You played your whole life to win that and you're giving it away?'" [T]he money will pay for "at least eight school therapists," he says.
Plus, the more he talks about it, the less weird therapy becomes.
"I needed a therapist when I was a kid," says Artest, who was suspended every single year of his elementary school career. "I needed one real bad. I want kids to know that what they're going through, they're not alone."
And that’s what seals it for me. After making me laugh throughout the article, Artest reveals his heartfelt intent.
Moreover, Artest is saying and doing things that others won’t, albeit in his own inimitably eccentric way. In addition to the championship ring up for auction, this selfsame man, a tough guy from Queensbridge, has recently pledged to give up half of his $6 million 2011-2012 salary to support mental health.
What makes Artest endearing is that he’s beyond ego. He’s an open, if not always understood, book who has made his share of mistakes and has learned from them.
More than ever, his antics and his efforts are pointed in the right place. I, for one, will continue to root for Artest’s ascent as the mercurial, childlike bruiser with a heart of gold who defies each and every one of our collective expectations.
None of us can say whether or not Artest will become unhinged, even if we point back to the incident in Detroit that now seems so very long ago. What we can do is support an individual’s ability to change and effect change, in the process making a difference in other people’s lives.
Do yourself a favor, two even: Rent Being John Malkovich, but first, head over to ESPN and immerse yourself in Rick Riley’s account of Being Ron Artest.
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