Ron Artest RAPPING SMALL FORWARD
After one season in Houston, the 29-year-old free agent signed a five-year, $33 million deal with the Lakers—his fifth NBA team
Dan Patrick: Is your new coach, Phil Jackson, a tough guy to get to know?
Ron Artest: There's a little bit of an adjustment, but for the most part it's a veteran group, so it's kind of easy. I'm the only new guy.
DP: How does it feel to put on that Lakers uniform?
RA: Great. Just the history behind it. At my [introductory] press conference I was like, Man, I can't wait to put on the jersey.
DP: Who picked your number?
RA: Actually, one of my fans said to use 37—that's how many weeks Michael Jackson was at No. 1 with Thriller. So I used that number. It was kind of cool.
DP: Can you sing Michael Jackson songs?
RA: I try when I'm alone in the shower. But when I'm out in public, I won't sing a Michael Jackson song. That's my daughter's favorite artist—she's only six.
DP: Your daughter probably has a better chance of hitting those high notes than you.
RA: Yeah, a much better chance.
DP: What about wearing a sequined glove during warmups?
RA: Oh, man, that would be cool. I don't think Mr. Stern would allow that.
DP: Did you seriously consider playing in Greece this season?
RA: That was one of my first options. I really wanted to go. I was in Greece about seven years ago, I've got a couple friends out there, I like the culture, and I kind of grew attached to Greece.
DP: Can't you go there on vacation and still play in the NBA?
RA: Yeah, but basketball is so global now, and it would be cool to play [there]. My top teams were Greece, Detroit and, of course, Houston. I didn't think L.A. wanted me. And I was waiting for [Pacers president] Larry Bird to call. I still love Larry.
DP: You were looking at Detroit?
RA: At first I thought it was important that I play in Detroit because of what happened [when Artest went into the stands and fought with Pistons fans in 2004, resulting in a 73-game suspension]. It would be a message to the youth out there. And Detroit was interested. At that point I didn't know where I was going until my agent said the Lakers called. I said, "What did they want?" He said, "They want you on their team." And I said, "O.K., let's go."
DP: That was it?
RA: They could have gotten me for a dollar if they really wanted to.
DP: Mark Cuban said he was glad you went to L.A.
RA: Well, he should be worried about the other teams [in the West], because it's not just the Lakers who are good. Even if he's happy I went there and thinks I'm going to be a negative, [it's not going to be] easy for Dallas to get past San Antonio and Denver and Portland. There are a lot more problems than Ron Artest. It's funny—they called.
DP: Wait. Dallas called?
RA: It was an option. But that's all I've got to say about that.
DP: How confident are you that the Lakers will win a championship?
RA: Every team I've played on, I've said we'll win. I'm always confident. I could play with three old ladies and I'd assume I'm going to win.
Every Friday, Bengals QB Carson Palmer and his kid brother Jordan, his backup in Cincinnati, have a competition in which they try to throw footballs into a trash can. The winner gets to make the loser do something stupid. Carson recently forced his brother to wear a tight T-shirt and skinny jeans on a road trip (above). "He looked fantastic," Carson told me. "Jordan is extremely competitive, but when he has to pay up on a bet, he pays up."
He's the Boss
Think NFL players aren't into fantasy football? I asked Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew how he was going to spend his bye week. He said he had to watch games and follow players on his fantasy team. Jones-Drew recently went so far as to call one of his players, Bears running back Matt Forte, after a bad game. "I said, 'You've got to [do better], otherwise I'm going to waive you,'" said Jones-Drew. "We don't want that."
Line of the week
Actor and Notre Dame fanatic Vince Vaughn is a guy's guy, but when it comes to crying at movies, he feels it's O.K. to let the waterworks run in certain situations: "You get the green light when it comes to Rudy."
Now Hear This
Listen to the podcasts at danpatrick.com/interviews
1. Adam Sandler discusses going to games with Jack Nicholson.
2. Texas coach Mack Brown talks about the BCS standings.
THE FINE PRINT: Forty-seven-year-old Chris Chelios signed with the AHL's Chicago Wolves. He's eligible for preboarding in the penalty box.
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II/1DEUCE3 PHOTOGRAPHY (PATRICK)
COURTESY OF CARSON PALMER (JORDAN PALMER)
RICHARD DREW/AP (VAUGHN)
GUS RUELAS/AP (ARTEST)