Ron Artest: "I don't know if I'm built for America"
Why are the Kings playing so much better with you on the team?
Ron Artest: I mean, it’s just me, you know. It was just a matter of time for it to happen. We need to play hard. Hard every night…
What do you bring to the team – defensive prowess or something else?
RA: We work well together, it’s not just me. The point is playing hard, and doing it every single night.
How did you fit in the whole Kings’ run-and-gun style of basketball which was evident before you joined the team?
RA: It was pretty easy, you know. It’s just basketball, and if you play like a team, everything will work for everybody.
You played Kobe in the Staples Center. Is he the hardest defensive assignment in the league?
RA: He is one of them. If he’s not hard, I don’t know who is.
Who are the others?
RA: (pauses) Kobe… Mm-hm… Kobe… He’s a great player. He’s, you know, unstoppable.
Would you let anyone score 81 points on you?
RA: I’m hoping not (laughs). But, if it happens, you have to forget about it.
What makes him such a tough player to defend – his quickness, his range or something else?
RA: He does everything. I mean, he plays both ways, his range, his quickness, his post-up, shot, everything.
There were a lot of rumors that you might not fit too good in a small market town such as Sacramento. How did you fit in there?
RA: That was just people talking, that wasn’t true. It was just people talking.
How do you feel in the city? Do you frequent Vlade Divac’s club Tunnel 21, or his restaurant L’Image?
RA: I don’t go too much about the city. It’s definitely one of the better cities out there, because the view is so beautiful. Every day you get to have a beautiful view if you go and drive out on the highway. I love it.
Can you imagine yourself playing in Sacramento even after your option to leave in 2008?
RA: My mind is open, you know. There are so many of these young players coming in try to get our jobs and they deserve it. But, I’m open…
Who’s going to win the championship first, Kings or Pacers?
RA: That’s just how it’s gonna be.
Who got the better side of the deal when Kings traded Peja for yourself?
RA: Kings, definitely. You’re asking me a question, and you already know what the answer is going to be (laughs). I’m always going with myself first and then everybody else.
There was a lot of talk about this guy or that guy not making Team USA, but nobody mentioned you, even though you are a de facto best defensive player in the NBA. Are you surprised about it?
RA: That’s how it’s set up. That’s how the community and the media set it up, so that they wouldn’t mention my name. And, by the time I was supposed to get to play, it was too late. They already picked the team. They didn’t want me on that team, so it was OK.
Why do you think they didn’t want you?
RA: Why? ‘Cause I’m that type of guy, you know. They want classy people, and I’m not classy. You know what I’m saying? I’m not classy. They want people who are built for America, you know. I don’t know if I’m built for America.
You are described as this ogre, this monster, and, in fact, you are one of the nicest guys to talk to in this league. What do you say to that?
RA: It’s alright, I mean. Life is life, it’s OK. I’m not worried about anything other people say.
Don’t you feel that it’s a little bit unjust?
RA: No, it’s not unjust. It’s how people are, it’s how people think, you know. Some people think how they think, and I think how I think. I do what I do and it’s OK.
How are the things with your label Tru Warier these days?
RA: Right now, I’m just working on my project right now. I write my own stuff. It’s actually coming together right now. It’s going to be out pretty soon, probably like July 1.
How do you compare these two activities of yours – basketball and music?
RA: Music is a different art, it uses more of your mind, even though in basketball, you also need to use your mind to succeed. It’s just that in music you need to use your mind a little bit more.
Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia-Montenegro
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