Ron Artest: Is He a Visionary Hall of Famer or an Overhyped Buffoon?

Trae ThompsonSenior Analyst IDecember 23, 2010

Ron Artest: Is He a Visionary Hall of Famer or an Overhyped Buffoon?

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 11:  Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers battles for position with Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on November 11, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 118-112.  NOTE TO USER: User
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Ron Artest has achieved something amazing, but it has nothing to do with basketball.

    The Lakers forward should be commended for the debut of his new PSA where he speaks out about mental health awareness.

    In the brief spot, he urges viewers to talk to someone if they're struggling with mental illness, adding that he's done it. A Los Angeles Times article states Artest has struggled with mental illness since age 13. 

    "A champion doesn't accept defeat," he says in the spot. "Neither should you. You can do it.''

    For all the criticism he's received for his behavior in the past, Artest has developed a solid career in his 11 years in the NBA, averaging 15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and two steals per game. He was a key addition last year and helped Los Angeles defend its title.

    Right now, though, his numbers are way down (7.6 points, three rebounds per game).

    Will Artest finish his career as a solid, decent player? Could he go to another level and wind up a Hall of Famer? Or is he just another overhyped knucklehead? Let's examine the issue and decide.

Reason No. 5 He Is: Selection Process

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    DENVER - NOVEMBER 11:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets drives past Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers at Pepsi Center on November 11, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. The Nuggets defeated the Lakers 118-112.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowle
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has an impressive list of enshrinees for sure. But it's also strange to see how some Hall of Famers have entered twice, once as a player and another time as a coach.

    Why not just once? That would enhance that person's credibility either way. You also have announcers in there, who are, of course, deserving, but then you have peculiar selections like the original Celtics.

    For those who grew up playing basketball, did your coach teach you about them? Did you even know this was the first team to create post play, zone defense and switching to man-to-man defense?

    I'm not debating whether or not they belong in, but if you're going to double-up on some people and allow in prehistoric teams, then it's worth at least considering the idea of someone like Artest.

Reason No. 5 He Isn't: No Major Impact

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives on Glen Davis #11 of the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowled
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    He did play a key part in Los Angeles defending its NBA title last year, but Artest has never been the difference-maker and missing piece that's helped a team win a title.

    The Lakers are the fifth team he's played for in his career, and until now he has been more of a headache for most teams he's been with.

Reason No. 4 He Is: Chance On a Team Level

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    If Los Angeles wins its third straight title, it would be the third time in franchise history for it to three-peat.

    That perhaps would give Artest a chance at the Hall of Fame, since it does induct teams.

    Chances would be slim here, though, since the Showtime Lakers still haven't been honored, or any of Michael Jordan's championship teams, as well as the UConn women's basketball team that just broke UCLA's record for consecutive victories.

Reason No. 4 He Isn't: Nothing Like The Worm

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    SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20:  Dennis Rodman attends the Battle of the Codes poker game held at Star City March 20, 2008 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
    Matt King/Getty Images

    The closest comparison to Ron Artest would be Dennis Rodman. Both are definitely eccentric, but Artest isn't even in the same stratosphere as Rodman when it comes to crazy behavior and play on the court.

    Rodman was a great scorer in his early days with Detroit, but later developed into one of the NBA's most prolific rebounders in his time with Jordan in Chicago.

    Would he party and act crazy? Definitely, but then he also knew when to flip the switch and play hard. Eventually, Rodman will wind up in the Hall of Fame, too.

Reason No. 3 He Is: He's Got The Ties

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    SAN ANTONIO - JANUARY 11:  Patrick Ewing of the Orlando Magic during play against the San Antonio Spurs on January 11, 2009 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    He may not quite have the resume yet, but he is a native New Yorker, and that alone will at least give him some chance. Here are other notable New Yorkers who have been into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame:

    1987 - Walt "Clyde" Frazier - New York Knicks
    1992 - Lou Carnesecca - former St. Johns coach
    1995 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - Graduated from Power Memorial High School in New York City
    2002 - Harlem Globetrotters
    2008 - Patrick Ewing - New York Knicks

Reason No. 3 He Isn't: Needs More Rings

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 26:  The 2009-2010 Los Angeles Lakers Championship Banner is unveiled during a ceremony prior to their opening night game against the Houston Rockets at Staples Center on October 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER:
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    His career numbers aren't all too impressive, but Artest needs more than one championship to even be considered worthy of the Hall of Fame.

    Helping Kobe Bryant to his second three-peat will help, but Los Angeles is going to have a tough time, especially getting past Dallas and San Antonio in the Western Conference.

Reason No. 2 He Is: With Time There's a Chance

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ron Artest #37 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates as the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    If Artest is going to have any chance at being considered a Hall of Famer, he'll need to stick around for a lot longer and keep this pace up.

    Right now, he does have a solid resume, but not a spectacular one. For his career, he's averaging 15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists and two steals per game. Among his accomplishments, he's finished among the top five in the NBA in steals per game five times, led his team in steals nine of his 11 seasons, was named 2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, was a two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection and a 2004 All-Star.

    Nice, but not spectacular. If he somehow manages to keep playing for another 10 years, though, and remains this consistent, maybe it can be considered then.

Reason No. 2 He Isn't: Just a Funnyman

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    CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 10: Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks to pass as Kyle Korver #26 and Taj Gibson #22 of the Chicago Bulls defend at the United Center on December 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Lakers 88-84. NOTE T
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    If there's one thing Artest is spectacular at, it's making crazy comments.

    The other day, for instance, he decided to discuss Jesus and his basketball skills, explaining to AOL Fanhouse that Jesus was the only person who never got ejected from a basketball game. When asked what his numbers were, Artest didn't blink.

    "No ejections,'' Artest told the website. "He was 10-for-10s, a lot of 20-for-20s (in shooting). Perfect from the free-throw line. Infinity rebounding stats.''

Reason No. 1 He Is: Taking a Stand

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    WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 13:  (AFP OUT) Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest (R) helps children volunteers fill care packages during a NBA Cares service event at the Boys and Girls Club at THEARC   December 13, 2010 in Washington, DC. Bryant and all the
    Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    For all the troubles the NBA has dealt with concerning its image and the behavior of its players, Artest should be commended for speaking out about mental illness.

    There is a culture that exists that says you're not a man when you admit weakness or seek counseling of any sort. Those who do speak up are often ridiculed, too.

    Artest may be remembered for the infamous brawl incident when he was with Indiana and he leaped into the stands in Detroit. But this is also the same player who went with others from the NBA Players Association and Feed the Children on a mission to Africa in 2007, distributing over one million meals in Nairobi, Kenya.

    He also provided gifts and visited kids in an abandoned baby center, which houses orphaned, ill and neglected youth.

Reason No. 1 He Isn't: Just Look at The Names

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 17:  Ron Artest #37 and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates as the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals at Staples Center on June 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Go through the list of enshrinees and it's impossible to even mention Artest's name in the same sentence with the likes of Scottie Pippen, Joe Dumars, Kevin McHale or Walt Frazier. Then take it a step further and there are others like Clyde Drexler, Jordan, George Gervin, Jerry West and John Stockton.

    Forget about it.

Conclusion

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 8:  Ron Artest #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers during pregame introductions for the game with the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on December 8, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges an
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Ron Artest is a very solid player with a unique perspective on life. He will likely help Los Angeles win another title, and it's awesome he's stepping forward and speaking out about mental illness.

    But he's nowhere near worthy of being considered a future Hall of Famer.

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