Letters from the Lunar Outpost

'Tis not a lip, or eye, we beauty call, But the joint force and full result of all.
- Pope, English Poet, Critic, and Translator (1688-1744)

Hey, we all have our moments, I guess one of the trade-offs of being a million-dollar athlete is that when you have your moment, it’s there to be played and replayed on Sports Center and YouTube and your morning news program for everyone in the nation to see.

What makes the cheap shot so unfortunate is that Ron Artest is not the kind of player you love to hate, he’s the kind of guy you love to love. And I loved this guy even before he became a Laker.

When the fans in Detroit were throwing stuff onto the court and Ron went up into the stands and punched a guy out, and then he came back out of the stands and then another Pistons fan decided he would take it upon himself to run onto the court and try to bum rush Artest and Artest punched him out too, I understood that the NBA had to do what it had to do in suspending Artest for the rest of the season, but I also said to myself, “Right on, Ron.”

Listen, just because you bought yourself a hundred-something dollar ticket to see the game from one of the front rows does not mean you also bought yourself a license to throw your drink at one of the players and somehow think you should be immune to any repercussions. Some people deserve to have their asses kicked.

In one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen in a professional basketball game, Ron Artest once saw Trevor Ariza lose a shoe and without even skipping a beat, tossed Ariza’s shoe off the court so Ariza had to go scrambling to get it and put it back on, missing the next two possessions in the process.

But I think the moment when I really became the huge Artest fan that I am was when he gave maybe the most hilarious post-game press conference ever after the game 7 victory which made the Lakers world champs in 2010. He was just so off the wall, so full of love and so full of gratitude and so completely crazy that you knew that you’d never seen a press conference like it before and probably never will again.

I think it was also the first time in the history of professional sports that an athlete ever gave thanks to his psychologist, thanking her not once but twice, unashamed and there for all the world to know that he felt he wouldn’t have been where he was on that day had it not been for his head shrink. As someone who has struggled with mental demons of my own, that moment was especially poignant and endearing to me.

Last night, Ron Artest lost it. He snapped. That’s just about as ugly of a cheap shot as you’ll ever see. But if I could have a chance to say one thing to say to the man, it would have nothing to do with that ugly elbow to the back of James Harden’s head. If I had one thing to say to him, I would say, please, in the name of all that is good and holy, please, get rid of that Metta World Peace bullshit. I know you’re a crazy guy, but legally changing your name to Metta World Peace is crazier than Dennis Rodman in a wedding dress. I don’t care how many times the announcers are forced to say, “Rebound by World Peace,” you are not World Peace, you are Ron Artest. The mother and father that conceived you were Artests. They named you Ron. You won a freakin’ championship with the Los Angeles Lakers going by the name of Ron Artest.

I cannot even stand the sight of you jogging up and down the court with “World Peace” written on the back of your jersey.

The cheap shot was unfortunate, but for the love of God, please stop being such a clown and reclaim yourself with your Christian name. You are Ron Artest. I love you, man, but I will never, ever call you Metta World Peace.

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