An old Dave Chappelle stand up bit holds that the reason Louis Farrakhan is able to get away with saying incredibly incendiary and racist stuff about white people to white people is because Farrakhan’s always well-dressed, well-groomed and smiling.
Along a similar line of reasoning, we might all reject a man that, while verbally making perfect sense, looked the part of the criminally insane.
Enter Ron Artest.
The last time we saw this guy he was rushing into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills to violently confront the paying customers at a Detroit Pistons game, one of whom may or may not have thrown a Styrofoam cup at him.
Artest was a lunatic and an outcast, suspended from the league for the remainder of that season and the egg on the face of commissioner David Stern who tries so desperately to promote the NBA as a place where you can come to see the Negroes in their natural element, yet at the same time remain at a safe enough distance.
Now here was Ron Artest again, crowned a champion for his patience in being teammate to the world’s most notorious post-coital rapist—a teammate that according to recent sneaker commercials, now fancies himself as some kind of European football hero—and the mic was being shoved in Artest’s sweaty, disheveled and excited face.
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Here’s what he said: I’ll give my own ratings on a 1-10 scale, but you be the judge of whether it was crazy or not.
- “First off, I wanna thank everybody in my hood.” One of the nobler traditions of the Hip Hop culture is the pride you’re obliged to show for wherever it is you come from. Sanity Rating: 7
- “I wanna thank my wife… my kids, my family…” Oscar fans surely recall that when Best Actress winner Hilary Swank famously forgot to thank her husband for her 2000 win; she didn’t manage to stay married too much longer. Sanity Rating: 9
- “I wanna thank my psychiatrist Dr. Santi. She really helped me to relax so much.” Say what now? You’re seeing a shrink? That’s gotta hurt your sanity points, but realizing you needed one helps as does the fact that you remembered to thank her. Look out for Dr. Santi’s sure to be forthcoming book, Relaxing Ron-Ron. Sanity Rating: 6
- “It’s so difficult to play… All the commotion going on in the playoffs.” Here, Artest’s quest for cerebral serenity during a time of intense physical torment makes him seem to be almost the basketball equivalent of Rudyard Kipling. Sanity Rating: 8
- “And my single’s coming out… I did a song called ‘Champion’ last June!” The shameless self-promotion of a rapping side-hustle while the eyes of the world are upon you? Brilliant. Sanity Rating: 10
Add to all this that Ron Artest showed up for the post-game press conference with his very Black wife, mother, father and children turning into, on the spot, the very thing that many of us had begun to believe was extinct: the Black athlete as African-American family man!
On second thought, maybe he is crazy.