Step 1: Accomplished. Ron Artest signed a one-year deal this past off-season, hoping to play well and then capitalize on a good 2008-2009 campaign by inking a multi-year contract this coming summer. People claim he was simply staying out of trouble and not getting in to those immature squabbles on the floor because he wanted to get paid, but watching him, it seems like he’s simply growing up. The way he didn’t react to physical confrontations this post-season, keeping his team focused – those things just showed he is a leader. Now, I can be influenced pretty easily, but I truly think teams looking at signing him are getting a bonafide, sure-handed, secure leader. Bank on it. I was quick to bank on Artest going the other way a couple years ago, certain he would explode at some point in the season, but people change, man. People change. Artest joined The Carmichael Dave Show on KHTK in Sacramento to discuss the injury that prevented him from playing well versus the Lakers, whether or not he was satisfied with the season, and where he wants to play next year.
Are you happy with getting to the second round?
“I wanted to win and I just want everyone to know that. A lot of people, every time I come in to Houston, they’re like ‘Congratulations.’ I’m like, man, I got tired of saying congratulations since I’ve been back. Everybody in the organization was proud of us, but, I’m proud of my teammates, I’m very proud of my teammates… But, I’m not proud of myself, I gotta get it back… We were right there, we could have beat these guys. That’s why I’m so pissed, because we could have beat these guys.”
On what Kobe Bryant’s elbow did to him in game two of the Lakers series:
“I couldn’t shoot the ball anymore. He hit me at right at the point of my collarbone, so, like my whole left side of my neck, and my left chest was so tight. I couldn’t even sleep on it, he hit me that hard and it had been downhill ever since then. It really threw my shot off, you know, I had been shooting the ball well. I shot it well in game six in Portland, in games one, two, and three, I was shooting the ball really well, and then it caught up to me. I’m still in a little bit of discomfort right now… (Host: Did you get it checked out?) No, it’s getting better. It was a bruise.”
Where are you going to play next season?
“I’m coming back as a Rocket. I don’t wanna go anywhere else. I wanna stay right in Houston. Right in Houston, I got a chance to win a championship, Yao Ming will stay healthy, he’s not playing no ball with the Chinese National Team. I believe this team can win. And, we’ll actually be better, and I believe we can get homecourt advantage throughout the entire playoffs and that’s gonna be important.”