I didn't mean to walk in the shower with him. Yeah, I walked in the shower. I'm not a homosexual, but Kobe - he had no clothes on.
On a day when many reporters were asking him how much he's truly changed from his Indiana days of punching people in the stands, Ron Artest calmly countered and jabbed back with many new punch-lines for everyone to mull over. To say the least, it was very entertaining. It may not have been as extravagant as most of Shaq's previous press conferences, but the constant stream of random one-liners that flowed from the jovial and upbeat Artest sure made it seem like the newest Laker had taken some comedic lessons from the Big...Whatever.
Make no mistake about it, coming from a guy that Lakers fans had once always hated and been wary about for so long because of his bad boy image, past history, and annoying bouts of showboating - it's hard to decipher Ron Artest during such celebratory, formal speaking engagements such as this when he's seemingly always on his best behavior, ready to put his best face forward. Here are some paraphrased quotable highlights (I divided them up between the good, the funny, and the...strange):
What You Want to Hear As a Laker Fan (The Good Ron Artest):
- On winning his teammates and coaching staff over: "I gotta win myself over first. Make sure I work on myself this summer - be the best player I can be and come back in tip top condition. He's right. It's not a given that just because you add me to a team, we're the number 1 team."
- "Last couple years, Kobe's really been devoted to defense. And I respect him even more now. He's not gambling as much. He's more focused on stand-still defense."
- "They're a tough team. I thought they were tougher than Boston. I'm a Laker fan. When they were struggling against Boston, I felt bad."
- "My priorities are straight now - play ball first. And then everything comes second."
- "Losing always got me in trouble. I hated losing. Before, I'd always rip jerseys, throw chairs, throw gatorade bottles, throw parties (jk, I added that one, not Artest) - I was so frustrated. Winning 13-15 games with the Bulls. But I've learned that it's ok, and you need to have fun as well."
- On having doubters and the pressure that comes with being a Laker - "That's great pressure to have. I want people to come down on me. That's why I like having Kobe, he likes the pressure. I like to prove the doubters who think I can't fit in wrong."
- "They love their team. The fans are so confident. The fans are tellin' me, "are you ready to get your ring?" They know they're going to win. That's a great feeling."
- "Is TMZ here? Oh, they're not. That's good."
- "Hopefully my clothes make it to LA, if they don't - they can just stay in Houston."
- On hoodalizing the Lakers: "I hoodalized ESPN. I didn't say I hoodalized the Lakers. Noo, I was just playing. It was a joke. I was just off the top of the head at ESPN. You gotta have fun. It's summer time. That comment has nothing to do with the season."
- "Once again I'm vastly underpaid. But it's ok. At the end of the day, if you can't live with $33 million...you can't live."
- How he's changed since the brawl: "I don't lay on tables no more."
- "Following Kobe Bryant - that's a no brainer and I didn't even finish school, you know?"
- Regarding what he'll do with his hair: "I'll do something interesting the first time...something nice and fun for the kids..."
- Bringing out his jersey: "That's not Bynum's jersey is it? Oh, ok. I saw the 7 and was like..17?"
- "Throw Phil Jackson in the 'Mitch'...I mean...in the 'mix'."
- "I didn't mean to walk in the shower with him. Yeah, I walked in the shower. I'm not a homosexual, but Kobe - he had no clothes on."
Hi, I'm Ron. This is my straight, no-homo smile.
You've got to hand it to the guy - he was real, down to earth, and at many points, quite hilarious. He was poised and very sincere at times, too real to the point of awkward hilarity at other times, and just plain Ron, the attention grabbing media whore for most of the times. Sometimes his rough play, ridiculous antics on and off court, and his thug-like image can overshadow just how striking and down-to-earth this guy truly is. I'm not sure if he gets some PR help when it comes to his speaking engagements, but...he sure said all the right things to help alleviate the doubts of many skeptic Laker fans out there...and then he said some other things that let us know that we'd all be in for one fun, bi-polar Laker ride this season. And Kobe? He had no clothes on.
Welcome to L.A. Ron-Ron,
Jonathan Hernandez (Chick's Fridge)