Friday, September 9, 2011
One and the same.
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Call them crazy but Ron Artest and Dennis Rodman share more than a few eccentricities and playing time for the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. The two enigmatic and entertaining ball players, personalities and all-round stars, have a lot more extra curricula activities and facets of themselves that meet the average or critical eye. There's just something about these two. They seem to have done just about everything and anything they want. Where do we start?
You think Ron Artest is cuckoo for appearing on a Jimmy Kimmel interview in just the bare essentials of his boxer shorts? Well Dennis Rodman showed up to his own wedding as the bride, veil, gown and everything. Speaking of which the woman he married was Carmen Electra in a bizarre marriage that lasted as long as Ron Artest's latest dose of reality might. Ron is literally 'Dancing With The Stars' for a season (damn this lockout) with Lamar Odom's beau's brother and Cher's daughter/son Chaz Bono. Still don't rule Ron and his left feet out, stranger things have happened, my moneys on him and his excellent defensive footwork to win.
Stranger things have indeed happened. Queensbridge native Artest has released rap records, OK so he's no Nas, but he can sure rap better than Kobe, while Dennis D.J.'s everywhere from Madrid to Tokyo, sound strange? Well, how about this? Ron's successfully done stand up, sure he was no Dave Chappelle or Jamie Foxx, but he was no Doug Williams either. Rodman's also made us laugh out loud with the best story about his old flame Madonna. He's also successfully taken to the Hollywood stage with Van Damme in the blockbuster 'Double Team', amongst other films, we can't wait to see Artest in a film either. Dennis has also penned several entertaining and curiously titled autobiographies, even promoting one by sitting in a coffin. These boys sure kill us laughing, we can't wait to see and read what Ronny has to say.
Ron infamously brawled with fans in the 'Malice Of The Palace', which he has since made humble amends for, but Rodman has thrown it down with Hulk Hogan and believe it or not NBA strongman Karl Malone in a WWF wrestling ring. 'W.T.F' indeed! Ron has one different but generous things like hold open invitational Venice Beach football games via Twitter, while police helicopters once had to stop one of Rod's beach block parties. Ron Artest recently changed his name to Metta World Peace, Rodman's groundbreaking, creative and at times gender, defying dress has made it hard to figure out who he is, but he dubbed himself the 'devil' to Jordan's 'God' and Pippen's 'Jesus'. It's all in the name of fun however, like when Dennis would change and spray his hair a different colour and pattern each game. Something Ron's experimented with once or twice and even convinced D.J. Mbenga to do.
Call them what you want but this proves nothing but the passion and creative expression of heart of the pair. The type of unique, individual and specialist qualities that helped them become legendary all-round and classic, irreplaceable niche players in the league. The two have given (and in Ron's case still give) many top franchises their sensational, serious services. The two have even agreed to play overseas with British franchises in their time. These comic clowns sure know how to have fun, but they're no joke. They take their game and business seriously. This is why they are two of the greatest NBA players of all-time, Hall of Fame approved and waiting. From Ron's multiple 'Defensive Player of the Year' awards to Dennis' countless rebound accolades the pair have grabbed and stole the limelight from those looking to star big on the offensive side in more ways than one. Don't front on the offence of these two either, they could and can score big too. There numbers game goes beyond the constant jersey changing Artest (he once sported '37' in honour of the number of times Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' went platinum) and Rodman's bizarre requests (he once was refused the chance to wear '69' or '007' by the shaken and stirred Dallas Mavs who felt screwed around).
Still statistically speaking these legends have gone beyond the box-score, with their hustle, hard work, passion, persistence, skill, will, drive and dedication. Ron Artest has owned every opponents best player like Dennis Rodman owned every loose ball. These defensive dynamo's have become benchmark pioneers for the 'other' side of the court. These two men also provided immeasurable, incredible help to the two greatest basketball players of all time; Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. From opponent to teammate Ron has gone from Kobe's worst agitator to his greatest motivator, while in the eyes of critics Rodman's had Jordan's back, through the days he was wrongly hated, to the days he was rightfully, finally celebrated. Some may not understand the tributes and talents of this pair but that's what makes these enigmatic players and personalities that much more individual and unique.
Now how's this, in the list of outgoing behaviour? Ron Artest has acted as an advocate for mental health even selflessly auctioning off a players most valuable possession in his championship ring to raise money for the cause he's down for. He's not the only one who turned his biggest honour around to others. This year when an emotional and genuine Dennis Rodman was inducted into the Hall Of Fame he gave the most humbling, honest and heartfelt speech ever heard as he admitted he thought he needed to be a better father and man. Dennis sacrificed his moment for a poignant and profound declaration to his loved ones. What both these dedications by these two men show is heart and a hell of a lot of it. An under appreciated quality of both individuals that show just the players and men they truly are.
All in all the personalities and complexities of Dennis Rodman and Ron Artest are more than what meets the stereotypical eye. Sure this pair of eccentric characters may not be squeaky clean and cut, but from the screeches they make on the court to what they do above the rest off it they really are something special. Replace crazy with the word charismatic and you my just begin to figure out what makes these two individuals be the players and men they are. Two men with so much passion, talent and dedication with more heart than the critics give them. Forget about the hate, you have to love guys like this. Similar but all in all their own men.