Pivot Points: Is Alcohol To Blame for Ron Artest's Untimely Fall?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer IDecember 30, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 19:  Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers stands on the court during the game against the Chicago Bulls on November 19, 2009 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 108-93. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

In a recent interview with ESPN, Los Angeles Laker forward Ron Artest says that he has no memory of the events preceding his tumble down the stairs of his home on Christmas evening.

This is not unusual considering that one of the symptoms of a concussion is short-term memory loss, but it reminded me of a personal event that occurred on my birthday a couple of years ago.

A friend and I were set to conclude an evening of hard partying with breakfast in an attempt to dilute the effects of the large quantities of alcohol we had previously consumed.

My friend went upstairs to retrieve a jacket to blunt the bite of the early morning air, while I waited at the bottom of the stairs in anticipation of our trip to the Waffle House.

To say we were intoxicated would be a huge understatement and my friend proved it by the sequence of events that followed. For some reason he turned off the lights on the staircase, tripped on his feet, and ended his brief descent head-first into the wall at the bottom of the stairs.

Needless to say we were the proud owners of a gaping hole in the wall, and my friend had the privilege of sustaining the first concussion of his life, along with a head full of plaster to boot.

Like Artest, my friend had no recollection of the events preceding the fall, and was amazed that he didn't need immediate medical attention in the aftermath.

I recounted that tale because the obvious 700 pound gorilla in the room is the possibility of alcohol as a factor in Artest's fateful fall down the stairs that evening.

This has not been mentioned but it must be on the minds of people who have been witness to Artest's recent testimonies on his love for the liquid spirits, and his tendency to indulge during his days as a Chicago Bull.

Artest hasn't been plagued by the demons that have caused him so much turmoil during his career and up until this point none of his antics have really been detrimental to his team.

Sure he has been prone to the occasional quirky statements, and his Jimmy Kimmel underwear tirade will go down as one of the weirdest moments in television history, but he has for the most part avoided his reputation to cause distractions.

Until now, even if the Lakers are not speaking much about this incident it has to be a reason for concern, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time for the defending NBA champions.

The Lakers put a lot of faith in Artest and he has responded as the best defensive player on the team, along with instilling a mental edge that Los Angeles previously lacked.

Artest appeared to give the Lakers the defensive stopper they lacked and his presence allowed Kobe Bryant to not have to bear the bear the burden of being the primary offensive and defensive threat.

That aura came tumbling down in the Lakers' loss to Cleveland on Christmas night and a few hours later Artest followed in a gaffe that has further exposed the Lakers' defensive short-comings.

Artest is not solely to blame for the gaping canyon that has opened in the Laker defense, but his absence from the line-up has only helped to highlight the weaknesses to a dizzying degree.

Consider that in the wake of his injury the Lakers have given up more than 100 points to the Sacramento Kings, the Phoenix Suns, and the Golden State Warriors, and were blown out by the Suns, a team they had defeated in two previous meetings.

The Lakers offense was clicking on all cylinders in the three contests, but the defense left a lot to be desired, as the Lakers fell victim to constant penetration and an inability to defend the rim.

Artest was set to make his return against the Warriors, but was held out due to lingering effects from his injuries and hopefully he will be cleared to play in the Lakers' next game against the Kings.

I hold out hope that his fall truly was an accident and not a relapse into the ways of his confessed past, but his own personality and history leaves room for lingering doubts.

Although he must be given the benefit of the doubt, I am reminded of my own experiences during a festive occasion and can't help but think that Artest may have fallen victim to more than his stairs on Christmas night.

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