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Artest's comments are not as ignorant as you think


Sound the alarm: Crazy Pills said that Brandon Roy is the best player that he's ever played against.  The media has already proclaimed it to be "Ron-Ron's return."  They've accused him of "disrespecting Kobe and LeBron" and asserted that he went out of his way to take pot shots at Charles Barkley.  They've turned a cheap, minute-long interview during the middle of practice into an NBA civil war.  Surprised?  Neither am I.

Let's be serious for a second.  First off, nobody cares about Charles Barkley right now.  He's not on the court, he's in a chair, so people could care less what Ron has to say about Chuck.  And in Ron's defense, what else would you expect Artest to do other than criticize Barkley's defense?  He's a defensive-minded player, and Chuck's lack of defense was probably the first thing that popped into his head during the half second window that Craig Sager gave him to answer the question.  So let's just forget about Barkley.

As for the Roy comment, I'm actually glad Ron said it.  It's obvious that Kobe and LeBron are better players than Brandon, but that isn't what Artest meant by his comments.  He didn't say, "Roy is better than LeBron and Kobe."  He said, "[Roy] is the best player I've played against."  There is a difference between the two statements, and the difference is Ron himself.  He may prefer to play against LeBron and Kobe because he feels he matches up better with them.  He may believe that Roy does some things on offense that make him harder to handle than Kobe or LeBron.  That could certainly be a reason.  But I think this is all about Ron's mindset heading into Game 6, and I love it.

Ron is always up for a challenge.  He is always ready to challenge the best wing player that any team sports, and he never, ever backs down.  I believe Ron is trying to get it in his head that Brandon Roy is the best player in the NBA, and not because it is true or not, but because it will challenge him to play his very best.  Artest does not want to sell himself short; he wants to push himself to his highest ability, and if that means sounding idiotic on television, then so be it.  He doesn't care what TNT or ESPN or anyone else thinks about him.  He is focused on his opponent, and his opponent is Brandon Roy.  For Ron to think anything less of Roy would make his job seem easier, and Artest doesn't want that.  He doesn't want an excuse to give anything less than 100%, and by convincing himself that Brandon Roy is the best player out there, he knows that he will respond with the most effort possible.

Nobody should treat these comments as dumb or ignorant.  Ron said what he said for a reason, and hopefully tonight will serve as his explanation.