December 02, 2009
In a lengthy and candid interview for the upcoming issue of Sporting News magazine, Artest — best known as the central figure in the infamous Malice at the Palace in Detroit — lets it fly, including a startling admission that he drank alcohol during games as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
"I used to drink Hennessy ... at halftime," said Artest, who played with the Bulls from 1999-2002 and now is with the Los Angeles Lakers. "I [kept it] in my locker. I'd just walk to the liquor store [near the stadium] and get it."
Note: For those unfamiliar with the prestigious alcohol landscape, Hennessy is a brand of cognac, which is a French variety of brandy. It contains 40 percent alcohol, and is reportedly North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's drink of choice. (Of course it is.)
Artest has said, and done, a lot of wild things over his career, but this "halftime Henny" revelation might be the most shocking one yet.
Is he admitting to being an alcoholic, but now, being older and more mature, recognizes the problem? Was he just a big kid thinking a little sip or two was all fun and games? Or, as can be the case with Ron-Ron sometimes, is he exaggerating the story to land bigger and bolder headlines?
I don't know the answer, but let's hope it's something close to option one.
Artest speaks openly in the interview on many other sensitive topics, including his life as a St. John's college basketball star ("I was a single pimp!"); his feeling toward The Brawl's instigator Ben Wallace(notes) ("I'm always in the mood to fight him"); and his plans to become a professional boxer ("In four years, I'm going to try to have my first fight").
Sharp is right: Ron should be obligated to give a feature-length interview at least once a month.
What a character.
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