Ron Artest, you have a brand new chapter with a fresh start unfolding for you. For your sake brother, please don’t blow it.
In what turned out to be a soap opera worthy of challenging the T.O.-Philadelphia Eagles and Kobe-Shaq sagas, Artest finally ended his time with the Indiana Pacers. After five years, the former all-star was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Peja Stojakovic.
For one, the Pacer front office wanted to erase the scuff left on the franchise’s shoes following last season’s “Palace Brawl” in Auburn Hills, where Artest entered the stands to confront a fan. The infamous incident resulted in his suspension for the remainder of the season, in addition to public scorn from every corner.
Secondly, even prior to that whole fiasco, the Association already had Artest blackballed for being an unstable creature unfit at times of keeping his cool. For the Pacers, the last straw came when Artest was quoted earlier this season as saying he wished to be traded.
I refuse to continue to shower him with criticism about his character like so many have done before. Not that he would be bothered if I did. Sure, clips of him destroying TV cameras and promoting a rap album during the season are actions I don’t cosign with. But like I’ve always believed, only God can judge us.
I must commend the Kings’ organization for rescuing him when no one else would. Without holding him to his past, they opened their arms and realized that everyone should get a second chance — even if it may be a third or fourth as in Artest’s case. They realized how much of an asset Artest could be. But most importantly, they realized they might be able to have a substantial impact on his life in the long run.
So who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to pass judgment on the guy? Without getting my pastor on, maybe this is what God has in the plans for him: a new city, a new team, a new conference. And aside from basketball, he may even be able to establish a whole new identity if he chooses to.
So I urge you, Ronnie, to make the most of this new genesis. I have your back, but there’s no telling how many more chances you may get.
LeMont Calloway is a senior newspaper journalism student from Chicago.