The more that's said about Ron Artest, also known as Metta World Peace, the more that he appears childish, disrespectful and trapped in his own crazy reality. But get ready for more MWP. He's coming.
In his latest rant, Artest refuses to shake hands with Oklahoma City's James Harden, who was the victim of Artest's -- I mean, Metta World Peace's -- vicious elbow about a month ago, prior to the end of the NBA's regular season. Just another way to stoke controversy.
Now that Artest's Los Angeles Lakers are facing Harden's Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals, conversation about Artest's antics are getting back into full swing.
But here's the thing: The more his behavior is talked about, the more attention Artest gets. And that's negative attention, which could only fuel his awkward competitiveness. He's not the most sane guy around, evidenced by his actions after the Lakers' Game 7 win over the Denver Nuggets -- just to cite a recent incident, of course (Want to read some old gold? Click here).
Artest appeared twitchy, nervously looking around while being interviewed by Craig Sager. Was Artest waiting for someone to hop out of thin air? It was awkward and scary.
As funny -- painfully funny, I might add -- as "Queens Bridge baby, you already know" sounds, Artest should probably be banned from doing public interviews. He embarrasses himself on the court over and over, and quotes like that don't show his intelligence -- and he is intelligent, believe it or not. Listen to his way of talking, he's quite eloquent.
But then he turns into his later ego, or something other than normal, and goes off on tangents by referencing his old neighborhood, which, I might add, had nothing to do with Sager's question.
Back to the handshake. Artest doesn't exchange pleasantries with substitutes, or so he says. OK? Grow up. He owes Harden some sort of apology for his cheap shot heard 'round the world. He is a professional, right? Even a halfhearted slap on the rear would suffice.
Derek Fisher, a former Lakers standout, says Thunder fans will give Artest a hearty ovation when arrives in town. Thunder fans might want to be careful, though. Take note from what happened at The Palace of Auburn Hills in 2004 -- don't taunt Artest, or throw beer and chairs at him. Live by this philosophy: Don't provoke the animals -- you know, something like you'd read at a zoo.
"Good, old-fashioned Southern hospitality. That's the type of reception that I expect that he'll get, and that's fair game," said Fisher, now a bench player for the Thunder. "The fans will be excited. I'm looking forward to being on this side of these fans this time at this point in the season.
"I can only imagine the amount of energy they have stored up. We'll have to properly use that energy. Can't get too caught up in it."
Harden, along with other teammates, has taken the high road in the matter. That's the right thing to do. Any ill words might ignite another elbow to the head. Not sure how many more Harden can take. He's doing himself a favor by laying off the Artest chatter.
Even if Artest doesn't want to associate with bench guys, the premise of his argument is flawed. It's not like Harden is just some scrub pine rider. He's one of the best guards in the NBA who happens to come off the bench behind another great guard, Russell Westbrook.
Writing about Artest probably doesn't help my argument, either. After all, I'm a subscriber to the idea -- in Artest's case -- that if you ignore something, it will go away. No such luck, though. So why not write about it.
What is your favorite Artest moment? The Michael Jackson tribute rap was touching. His heart was in the right place, I suppose. Leave a comment and explain what Artest folly qualifies as his most memorable.
Adam Biggers has followed the NBA for over 20 years. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBiggers81.
- Ron Artest