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A Portrait Of An Artest As A Crazy Man

All of the us stalwart Houston Rockets fans were heartened by the exciting news that NBA bad boy Ron Artest, star of the sport's worst ever brawl in Detroit a few years back, has joined the team. The reason to cheer is that Artest is a phenomenally talented basketball player and defensive specialist who will allow Houston to compete for an NBA championship next year.

Usually when a new player joins a team, his new teammates embrace him with smiles and open arms, even if he is completely insane--as Artest happens to be. However, in a charming and perhaps unstrategic nod to honesty, Face-Of-The-Olympics (and Rockets All-Star Center) Yao Ming said the following:

"I haven't talked to Ron yet, so it's hard to say. I have to find a way to talk to him and see what we can do as a basketball team. He has a history. But we know he is a physical player. He is a good player. He really can help us. And Ron is on a contract year, too.

"I think Ron Artest is a good player if coach (Rick) Adelman can control the team well."

Yao then added:

"Hopefully, he's not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands."

One has to love Yao's straight-talking, but now Artest has answered with this gem

"I understand what Yao said, but I'm still ghetto," Artest said, according to the report. "That's not going to change. I'm never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don't think he's ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he'll understand what I'm about.

"If you go back to the brawl, that's a culture issue right there," Artest added, according to the report. "Somebody was disrespecting me, so he's got to understand where I'm coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed."

Ron, please keep it together, if only for a season.

--Isaac Chotiner