Ron Artest gets emotional vs. Knicks
OAKLAND, Calif. -- A rowdy game against the team he grew up rooting for as a kid has Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest vowing not to return to his roots, when he was a player so aggressive he sometimes bordered on being out of control.
Artest was called for a technical foul in the first quarter of the Lakers' 109-87 win over his hometown New York Knicks on Sunday for scuffling with New York's Shawne Williams and briefly placing his hand on Williams' neck. Later in the game, Artest was called for a flagrant foul, category 1, for bringing Amare Stoudemire to the floor during a drive by the Knicks' big man.
"That game, you probably won't see that much out of [me]," Artest said Wednesday before the Lakers' game against the Golden State Warriors. "That game, it was a little bit off guard. When you seen that New York uniform, there's just so many pictures being painted when I see that New York uniform."
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Artest, who was born and raised in the Queens borough of New York City and later played his college ball at St. John's University, said the game against the resurgent Knicks caused him to flash back to his past.
"It felt like it was street ball," Artest said. "I definitely felt like I was back at 119th [Street] and Second Avenue or Kingdome or like the Rucker or Soul in the Hole, Hunter College. ... It's just New York. New York City street ball, New York City basketball, tar heel, black top and that's how I felt when I saw that orange and blue."
Artest took to his Twitter account late Sunday night following the Knicks game and posted several messages in reference to his play.
One read, "bye bye old RON too much emotion for me i am getting old," and another was, "i wont be that aggressive if yal looking for that just mental toughness that was the old ron today i dont know where he came from."
Artest was asked to explain the tweets Wednesday.
"A lot of people like that [version of me], some fans," Artest said. "But they don't understand the business. If they want to see that type of basketball, they can come watch me play in the summertime in New York City. That's like 1988-85 basketball. You can still play aggressive and emotional, but it's hard to be that emotional -- you'll get a technical foul right away. A lot of fans, they like that, but it just won't be happening.
"I don't play like that. I play hard, you know, but emotional? I don't really get emotional like that."
The 12-year veteran, who was infamously suspended 73 games during the 2004-05 season and postseason for an incident in the stands in a game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons, has sought the counsel of a psychiatrist while trying to shed his bad-boy reputation.
"I've been working so hard over the last couple years on my whole Ron Artest image," Artest said last week, while expressing to reporters how hurt he was that a story surfaced about him having a confrontation with head coach Phil Jackson during a recent practice.
Jackson has helped debunk that rep, describing Artest as a "naive, innocent lamb," during last season's playoffs.
The Lakers next play the Knicks on Feb. 11 at Madison Square Garden.
Artest was asked if he could ever see himself finishing his basketball career in New York.
"I have a lot of years left on my contract, and I'll probably be in the NFL by that time," Artest said. "I don't know ... I always wanted to, though. I always wanted to play for the Knicks. Obviously I still love New York, but I think after my contract I'll probably be shooting for other things, either boxing or football ... I've still got a lot of love for the Knicks, though. And hopefully when the Nets go to Brooklyn -- they might go to Brooklyn, right? So I'm going to be a Net fan too."
Artest tweeted late Tuesday night that he would be giving away eight tickets via his website, RonArtest.com, the morning of the Feb. 11 game against the Knicks.
Artest also tweeted a string of New York-related messages Monday: "Finals LA Vs NY Let's get it!!!!"; "Get your popcorn ready when LA comes to NY. I'm taking the train to the game from queensbridge!! Holla!!"; and "Felt like I was back in new york the other day. Flash back of street ball. I dominated NYC street ball for a long tine [sic]."
In the wake of LeBron James' "karma" tweet (to which Artest said, "Unfortunately I saw that"), Artest said he has also toned down the use of his Twitter account, @RONARTESTCOM.
"Now I'll be a little more cautious, but before, when I first got here to L.A., I was just doing some things that I wish I never did," Artest said. "I probably typed and tweeted some stuff that it was like, 'Why did you tweet that?' It was fun. It was cool. But some stuff I wish I would not have tweeted."
During the Lakers' second-round series against the Utah Jazz last season, Artest tweeted that he wished Jackson would "close his yapper" and hoped his coach would keep his critiques regarding Artest out of the media.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.