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Will the NBA Ever Forgive Ron Artest for What Happened in 2004?

Shadeed SharpeContributor IMay 9, 2009

HOUSTON - MAY 08:  Guard Ron Artest #96 of the Houston Rockets commits a flagrant foul on Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center on May 8, 2009 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I love the NBA playoffs and with the exception of every Cavaliers playoff game, there has been plenty of excitement and intrigue. However, the constant overreaction by the referees and certain commentators (Mike Breen!) to physical play is sickening!

Our latest example of this came in last night's Rockets-Lakers game. Let me preface this by saying that the entire world is fully aware of what Ron Artest has done in the past and that he has a few screws loose in the ol' noggin, but give me and Ron Artest a break!

That was not a flagrant one, let alone a flagrant two that was called.

If you're going to keep punishing Artest for his past transgressions and not give him the benefit of the doubt, then don't give the benefit of the doubt to Pau Gasol who is softer than drugstore cotton!

I mean any reasonable basketball fan understands that if Artest was trying to put Gasol on a stretcher, he could've done that with no problem at all. What happened to a good ol' fashion hard playoff foul? No layups right? Gasol should've been put on his wallet for going in for a layup when the game was already decided.

All of this crap that the NBA will feed you that the referees are objective is a bunch of garbage. In the game two skirmish between Kobe and Artest, clearly a foul should've been called on Kobe if nothing else.

Whether he was intentionally elbowing Artest in the neck (and he was) or not, the fact is that he did. For a foul to be called on Artest just exemplifies that the refs are not objective when they make calls in certain situation and that Artest is a marked man.

Let me make it clear that Kobe only did this because he knows that if Artest still has any type of sense left, he's not going to do anything that would get him banned from the league. The Pacers/Bulls Artest would've broken Kobe in half!

Need I remind everyone of the confrontation he had with Chris Childs some years back when he was served with a two-piece meal courtesy of Mr. Childs. So we know that Kobe doesn't own a golden gloves trophy... 

The NBA is making it known that they haven't forgiven Artest for what happened back at the Palace in 2004. Everytime there is a little extra "physicality" and Ron is in the area, its almost as if the refs don't try to sort out what just occurred. They see a red or white jersey number 96 and they're like "oh it must've been Artest that initiated it."  

Artest has reinvented himself personality wise to large degree. He jokes with the media more now, pokes fun at himself and has brought Yao Ming out of his shell. He's still a very physical player and that's what makes him a great.

This is a society of second chances and we're supposed to reward someone who after making a mistake, is making a concerted effort to improve themselves and not repeat the mistakes of their past.

Artest deserves the same opportunity. I thought he showed great restraint in LA and unless we want to see him have a relapse, the refs need to cut him some slack.   

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