Forget about a trade. Forget about him learning how to share the ball and not looking to be the #1 guy on an average NBA team. Those guesses are way off, if the latest rumor in Ron-Ron's world is to be believed. After Marmaduke-gate and domestic violence charges, it has now sprung that Artest may be looking to get out of the NBA lifestyle altogether. Soon. Like when this year's all done.
According to ESPN.com, Artest told multiple teammates this week that he wants to retire at the end of the year to spend the proverbial "more time with his family".
Given that the two big scandals of the year off the court have centered on not having that part of his life exactly nailed, it wouldn't be that bad of an idea, and those of us here who have seen the Kings get better in the few games Artest has missed this year won't exactly be wailing and gnashing our teeth. But if it is indeed true, it will be a story of how one man with incredible basketball talent let himself be eroded away through ego, never fully achieving his potential. Artest can be very good - one of the best in the league on defense and a solid offensive force on many nights, but for him to fade away, stopping his career cold, will rob him and his fans to see what might have been.
As Rhonda noted, Ron-Ron can be "Scary Good". Friends of mine who have met Artest in more casual times in Sacramento call him a "normal guy". One in local retail wrote, "I have met his three children and his wife, all of them were nice, and seemed like a normal family, who just happened to buy a lot of expensive stuff frequently."
Which story is true? The menacing man who beer-chucking fans should fear? The wife abuser? The dog neglecter? Or the every-man who ESPN said everybody who meets him likes? The family man with expensive tastes? All of the above? We may never get the chance to know.
If Artest is truly choosing life over basketball, should he be lauded? When many are walking away from families, or choosing a career as the highest priority, should he be praised? Or, more cynically, is this a ruse to escape the Kings and move on - a fake retirement? ESPN notes he has the option to terminate his contract with the Kings after the 2008 season, one that pays him $7.4 million a year. But he could leave us sooner than that.
Yet another odd chapter in the Ron Artest saga. We'll keep you posted if we learn anything new. You do the same. Tipoff against the Suns is at 12:30 today. Ron-Ron expects to play.