Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers: Is He Crazy Enough To Really Raffle His NBA Bling?

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Ron Artest, L.A. Lakers: Is He Crazy Enough To Really Raffle His NBA Bling?
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Dec. 13, 2010: President Obama honors the L.A. Lakers, in D.C., for their community service. Artest is going to make someone very happy on Christmas Day.

How would you like to be the proud owner of a crazy man’s diamond-encrusted NBA championship ring? No? 

What if I told you it was for a good cause? No? 

You must think the ring is hot—or know who the crazy man is.

The word “crazy” is the most overused word in the English lexicon: A person who is fun in an over-the-top sort of way is “crazy;” a basketball player who can leap out of the gym in a single bound has “crazy hops;” a hit song by, say, um, Gnarls Barkley is “Crazy;” a stressful situation is often described as being “crazy;” a former girlfriend who keys a BMW is “crazy.” 

I’d reason that for every knucklehead-gone-crazy story, there is a life improvement story that goes unpublished. 

Michael Vick’s saga gets headlines, but there are others.    

Ron Artest’s “crazy” moments get headlines; his good deeds go unpublished or put on the back pages. He’s a great one-on-one defender and plays intense ball on the court. 

Off it, he’s a gentle giant who’s defending intense criticism of some of his antics.

He drew attention from the media and the cops by driving a mini race car around Los Angeles. Before that, he went on Jimmy Kimmel wearing only his boxers and tennis shoes.

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Oct. 27, 2009: Lamar Odom (left) gets his NBA championship ring in L.A. David Stern (right) is probably depending on Odom to keep Artest straight. Odom and Artest were friends as kids.

“He was quiet as a kid, and now he gets naked on Jimmy Kimmel,” Lamar Odom said about Artest during the championship ring ceremony. 

This quiet kid may need a straight jacket, plus a padlocked room, but he’s got the keys to Las Vegas. He met with President Obama, Bill Clinton and Harry Reid. 

Artest can probably get you any ticket in Hollywood. 

Now, he’s selling raffle tickets for a chance to win his NBA World Championship ring.  Through his web site,, he’s been selling chances to win since October.

A picture of the ring is on the web site, and Artest insists he will give away the original. 

I’m not so sure if he’s crazy enough to do that, but we’ll find out. 

On Christmas Day, the general public finds out who won the raffle for his ring. The Lakers play the Miami Heat.

It will be a Merry Christmas for whoever has the winning ticket. 

The winner also gets airfare, spending money and two seats to a Lakers game, courtesy of Artest, the Four Seasons for two nights is where the winner will stay. 

Throw in spending money and getting the taxes on the ring’s value paid for, it will be very merry in L.A.

In Europe, there was a time when being depressed meant incarceration in a mental health hospital that functioned like jail. Instead of Christmas Day joy, some people today experience depression around the holidays and feel like they’re in jail.

Ron Artest is drumming up support for mental health causes to let people know it’s OK to get therapy. For athletes and entertainers, some of the most successful have had bipolar disorder. Some of them, like Bobby Brown, admitted to medicating themselves—not a good idea.

Stereotypical ideas about counseling keep a lot of people who need it away. Taking it as a challenge to get the word out, Artest has arrived at the point of no return. He’ll most likely have to give up his first and only NBA ring. 

So he could “stick to the script,” Artest ordered a size 11 ring. He said he complied, of course, with his wife’s request to get a duplicate ring made. To prove he’ll donate the ring, he ordered the size 11—not his size.

Donations are coming in deep on the raffle ticket front. According to the group putting it together—Celebrities for Charity—about $120,000 was raised in fewer than 24 hours. 

It was in late October when Artest made the announcement. On CNN, he said five raffle tickets were the minimum available for purchase.

When Larry King told him the site crashed, “Nobody destroys Ron Artest,” was Artest’s reply.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Dec. 13, 2010: In D.C., Artest gives a child some pointers. He's not the mail man, but he's delivering a message of hope.

His image was once destroyed; now, he’s gaining a reputation as a solid citizen and human being. We have to be careful in praising people whose image we see from afar, as we’ve been reminded so often.

But, like him or not, Ron Artest has rehabilitated his image. It’s the best job of rehab since the “Bird Man of Alcatraz.”

He could have ended up in Alcatraz after he jumped into the stands in Detroit—one of the most replayed moments in American sports violence history, it now seems like a distant memory.

It was in 2004, and Artest has moved past it by putting his psychologist in front. During the victory interview after winning the NBA Finals, he gave a shot out to his shrink.

He’s a changed man due to his counseling and therapy, he said. “I want to thank my psychiatrist,” Artest declared in front of the largest audience to see an NBA Finals game.

“Damn a ring,” Ron must have said to himself. “Instead, build up treasures in heaven.”

Heaven to him is opening people’s eyes to mental health help. He wants more people to benefit from the help he’s received.

I don’t believe, though, that he is really going to raffle the ring. A championship bling-bling is something pro athletes work their whole lives for, and once Artest gets his, he raffles it? I can’t see it happening.

I think he got in over his head, and this thing blew up way too fast.    

He has to go through with it now. Or does he? 

Mission accomplished, Artest has drawn attention to a good cause. He doesn’t have to give his ring up. I don’t think he will.

He may have been raised by wolves in the wild, and now he’s developing quite the reputation of a humanitarian. But, c’mon, is he really going to raffle his ring?  No way. 

Does he think we’re all crazy? I guess, but I'm getting my tickets.

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