Thursday, May 7, 2009

Shocker: Ronald Artest Receives Technical Foul

Worst case scenario, this Lakers-Rockets series is going six. That means I get (at least) four more of these suckers, which deserve higher ratings than the MASH finale and Super Bowl XXV combined. You want drama, boys and girls, you've come to the right place. I'm talking hostile crowds and sincere enemies. And if you're just a sports fan and you just want basketball played on the highest level, well, Lakers-Rockets delivers the goods in that department, too.

Everyone who's ever been close to me has been annoyed at some point by my obsession with sports. It goes too far, they say. One of my dearest friends, Colly Boy (an accomplished athlete and big sports fan), couldn't stand the fact that I gave up everything I was doing to watch Josh Hamilton come to the plate during the '07 season. I'd say, "You don't understand. This is the most amazing thing in the history of most amazing things." His reply, essentially, was "Grow up."

And it's not just him. I nearly came to blows with a co-worker six years ago because he didn't approve of my desire to hear the latest with Willis McGahee's rehab. (It was a warehouse job, by the way.)

Girls? Forget about it. They crave spontaneity, and the only thing on my mind as we're starting to French kiss is, Shit, I don't want to miss the rest of the game. I need to find a way to go upstairs and TiVo it before clothing is removed.

My biggest fear (aside from snakes, obviously) is missing the big moment. That, to me, is why you watch sports. The big moment. I always hate not having an answer when people call me on a Tuesday morning to ask me about the miraculous comeback on Monday Night Football. It's my job to know these things, and I feel as if I'm letting myself (and others) down when I can't come through.

That's why I'm constantly sleep deprived. I stay up late just to see if something cool will happen.

Last night, something cool happened. And all of the credit goes to tall black men (as always).

But I didn't stay up late to watch game two of Lakers-Rockets; I TiVo'd it (see: spontaneity, above). Which means that upon wake-up this morning I still had to (a.) watch the game in its entirety (including Inside the NBA afterwards), (b.) avoid contact with the outside world (I didn't check email or Facebook until noon), then (c.) get to typing. But just as I started, Howard Stern blind-sided me with a ninety-minute Norm MacDonald interview (can't miss radio every time).

And now I'm here. It's late afternoon and I gots me some words to say regarding Lakers-Rockets.

And you should know, I'll not be providing game analysis today -- just a few comments on Derek Fisher's elbow to Luis Scola's sternum, and of course, the ongoing Kobe/Artest saga.

First, watch Derek Fisher's violent cheap shot in slow motion, then read my follow-up comments...

Two things:

1. I love this stuff. Especially in game two of what will undoubtedly be a lengthy series.

2. This was par for the course with Fisher. The media refuses to acknowledge that Fisher's a borderline dirty player because he's such a nice guy...and he's overly generous with charities...and (I hate to say it) his daughter,
somewhat famously, has eye cancer.

But it doesn't change the fact that he's dirty-----always has been. I enjoy watching the dude play, but he deserves to be suspended for game three. And he needs to be called out by the media.

Now, the important stuff.


What I didn't mention up top, but have a few times recently, is that my ankle is royally screwed up. I have bruising between my toes, and I have bruising on my mid-shin. And the majority of pain is to the immediate sides of my Achilles' tendon. I can't do a damn thing. I can't move. I hop or crawl when I need to make a toilet. And I keep calling off my bar shifts.

I'm running out of money.

I'm depressed.

You'd think I'd make the most of my free time and write 'til my fingers bled (or listen to Bryan Adams a lot). But that's not the case. As an expert in the field of depression (in this case, nine days makes you an expert), I can tell you I simply don't have the motivation to do anything but read books and wait around to watch the Reds and the NBA playoffs. That's it. That's what my life has come down to.

But the Kobe/Artest altercation brought about hope. And it reminded me that swallowing a shotgun is almost never the solution.

I'm sure you saw Kobe Bryant's elbow to Artest's upper chest and the ensuing fallout. If not, here goes:

Kobe's elbow to Artest was no big deal. Ron Ron getting in Kobe's face and the first technical foul were equally un-newsworthy. But here's what nobody -- and I mean NOBODY -- is talking about: Ron Artest, after receiving the first tech, clearly performed a throat-slashing gesture (and made the late-90's proud in the process). But seriously, though, as much as Artest shouldn't be suspended for this (because nobody thinks Artest is actually going to slice Kobe's throat), I'm pretty sure the rule book says otherwise.

Again, nobody is mentioning the throat slash. I watched Inside the NBA and devoured True Hoop-----no dice. I couldn't believe it. Nothing else was on my mind except Artest's silly gesture. If the league office reads my site, however, this could be an interesting development before the series resumes Friday in Houston. Stay tuned.

Anyway, the real reason we're here today...

Did you see Artest's post-game interview? He's one of the more interesting mammals in all of sport. Watch. No no........PLEASE WATCH:

Maybe you've seen interviews with Artest before, maybe you haven't. But I find it hard to believe you could watch something like that and come away thinking he's a punk. You might feel sorry for him (he nearly cried twice in a four-minute span). You might find him amusing. You might scratch your head. You might think he's a bullshitter (but he's no Eddie Haskel). And so on. And so on. Most of like him. Even knowing what you know, it's hard not to be drawn in by Ron Artest. And yes, I just wrote those words.

One of the books I ripped through in recent days was Malcolm Gladwell's Ouliers (which ranks ahead of Blink and maybe even The Tipping Point). It's brilliant. I don't want to spoil anything, but for those who have read Gladwell's latest masterpiece, are you now more understanding of a temperamental guy like Artest? I am. I can't stop relating Artest's behavior to the dozens of Hatfield-and-McCoy-esque family feuds dating back to 1800's Appalachia. How is it any different? (And I apologize if the references don't make any sense; go read the book.)

When Artest says that he once played a pick-up game that resulted in a player being stabbed to death I immediately thought about his inescapable upbringing. Artest didn't relay the story to glorify his life, either; he was merely making sense of his heated showdown with Kobe Bryant. Think I'm crazy? Watch the first minute again. Artest was remarkably calm as he spoke and unfazed by what should be (but probably isn't) the most traumatizing moment of his life. Artest is hardened, and he cannot avoid his shadow.

I can't believe I'm writing this, but I'll be rooting for the guy.

Will he get suspended? I have no idea.

In the end...

a. Watch every game of the Lakers-Rockets series, even if it means you won't be having intercourse for a few weeks.

b. Read Outliers, even if it means you'll have to soften your stance on Ron Artest.

That is all. Thems is the end of my words.

-Brad Spieser (


Daniel Phillips said...

Are you kidding me? The elbow to the throat was no big deal? By rule Kobe should've been thrown out of the game. The reason why nobody is talking about the "throat slash" is because that wasn't what he was doing. He was motioning how Kobe hit him with his elbow in the neck. They have talked about that today, and everyone i've heard agrees. You're dead on about Fisher though. I've gotta stick up for my rockets. Am I surprised that they threw Artest out? Not at all. His reputation follows him, but they should've reviewed the elbow on the court (which is what the refs are suppose to do), and thrown Kobe out. Ron Artest is the most interesting person ever. I try to listen to every soundbite after and before games. I'm just glad it's about time that people started paying attention to this team. They have championship ability.

Daniel Phillips said...

Very well written. I love this site.

Jeff said...

I was a huge Gladwell fan after reading those three books (in a span of a week or so) and then he writes this piece of dogshit about how more teams should use a full-court press. I was with him until he supports his argument using 8th grade girls basketball. WTF. Read it yourself and be tremendously disappointed.

Twin Killing dot Com said...


You're always leaving comments but I can't get in touch with you. Send me an email, fella.

As for Gladwell, I haven't yet read the piece, although I'm quite aware of it. He and Bill Simmons discussed it quite a bit the other day in their mammoth Q & A and it makes a little sense. Again, I haven't read it yet (but will) and it seems as if Gladwell's simply saying, If you're going to (almost certainly) lose, why not press? Simmons suggested a modified press at the beginning of the 2nd and 4th quarters and it sounded reasonable. Did you read the Q & A on As always, those two made for interesting reading.

Anyway, email me...