Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Richard Justice hates dogs

By now, you've surely heard about Ron-Ron being traded to the Rockets, but I saw this piece last night up on Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle's blog that I knew I had to go at FJM-style. For the duration of this post, feel free to call me Chen Tremendous. Or Lor-en Tremendous. Or just Loren.

Ron Artest? Seriously? Is Les Alexander playing GM again?

Because Les Alexander would have been able to pull off a deal sending away what amounts to our third-string PG, a shot-happy rookie, and a first round draft pick that's likely going to be in the bottom 4 for a 29-year-old former all-star and DPOY. And shave some salary while doing it to boot (Ron Artest only makes $7.4 million per year, compared to Bobbo's $6 million plus the contracts of Greene and the theoretical 2009 first rounder).

Just win, baby. That's the statement the Rockets sent Tuesday with the apparent acquisition of Ron Artest. Character? Not important. Potential for trouble? We'll take our chances.

"Who cares about winning, let's just make sure to field a team of great people. I'd take a team of Ryan Bowen's over Kobe, Jason Kidd, Ron Artest, Paul Pierce, Josh Howard, and other troublemakers any day."

The Rockets are a better team with Ron Artest. At least they're better in terms of talent, and that's clearly all that matters as the franchise desperately tries to become relevant in a market dominated by the Texans and Astros.

After consulting with my friend from Houston, I'll concede that the 'Stros are pretty big in H-Town, but the Texans? You can't seriously be arguing that the Rockets are fighting to become relevant in a market dominated by the Texans.
Those teams have been ridiculed for emphasizing character. Fans that think it's only about the bottom line now have a team to root for. I hope the Rockets don't tell us Artest's troubles have been blown out of proportion. I hope they don't think we're that dumb.

Domestic violence.

Animal neglect.

Attacking a fan.

An assortment of other tantrums, obscene gestures, etc.

I am a fan that's thinks it's all about the bottom line. I have now have a team to root for. I don't think anyone's going to tell you that his previous off-court troubles have been blown out of proportion. They will just tell you to deal with it as the Rockets try to win a championship.

Besides, if the Rockets win a championship--and they're good enough if Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming stay healthy and Morey makes a move to upgrade point guard--no one will care how they did it. No one will mention that the franchise suddenly seems diminished.

Wait, what just happened? First, you look down on fans that only care about winning, then you say that if the Rockets do win, then no one will care about anything else? Am I missing some hidden sarcasm here?

He's a wonderfully talented basketball player. He's only 29 years old. He did a terrific job with the Kings on the court. But there's a reason this is his fourth team. Not every team has considered Ron Artest worth the trouble.

"But there is a reason this is his sixth team. Not every team has considered Brent Barry worth the trouble."

Rick Adelman coached Artest for 40 games, so he certainly signed off on the deal. I want to trust Rick Adelman in personnel matters. I want to trust Daryl Morey, too. This is a tough one to swallow.

I'd certainly much rather have a shoot-first point guard and a volume-shooting rookie on a team that's already starved for shots to go around than a second lockdown defender (Shane Battier being the first), who also happened to average 20+ points on only 16 shots per game. Who we know will leave everything he has and more on the court, which is more than can be said about most of the Rockets' current roster. I don't know if I can sign off on this deal... Seriously though, I also think everything that Daryl Morey does should be heralded as the ultimate truth.

It could be another example of Les Alexander pretending to be a general manager. His last good idea was wanting Steve Francis back in uniform. That one should have taught him to stick with stocks and bonds and whatever else he does. He doesn't know basketball.

We got Steve Francis, a fan favorite in Houston and potentially great sixth man, for 3 million dollars a year. Just because his season was derailed by an injury doesn't mean that it wasn't a good move at the time. But Justice is right, Les doesn't know basketball. Basketball is being nice and keeping your cool regardless of circumstance or whether you win or lose. Basketball is about staying with one team for you entire career, giving them no reason to question your character or "potential for trouble." It is most certainly not about putting the ball in the hoop and preventing the your opponent from doing the same, which seems to be the only thing that Ron Artest is good at.

We'll eventually know whether Les forced this deal on his basketball team. It may be two or three years down the line, but someone will let it slip. They always do.


The Rockets had pursued Artest in the past even after he'd gotten into trouble. In an odd twist, once he was accused of animal cruelty, Artest seemed to disappear from the hearts and minds of the Rockets.

Not that odd if you know anything about Les Alexander. Let me direct you to his Wikipedia page:

"He is also a vegetarian and an ardent animal-rights advocate. The Associated Press has reported that he has found ways to “promote animal rights through the Rockets. Complimentary media meals usually are vegetarian, the team's dance squad sometimes wears ‘Animals Have Rights’ shirts and he outlawed using creature-shaped piƱatas during game promotions.” Alexander also places ads for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Rockets programs. In 1998 PETA publicly recognized Alexander and his (now ex-) wife Nanci as its largest individual donors. Nanci co-founded and runs the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, and was instrumental in mobilizing support for the 2002 ballot measure that gave constitutional protection to pregnant pigs in Florida."

Come to think of it, if you can forgive Artest for all the other stuff he has done, you should be able to forgive him for neglecting an animal.

Here is where I stop. I'm not an animal rights activist or anything, but even I think that this is a dumb thing to say. It's one thing to punch out a guy have he dumps his beer on you. It's a perfectly natural and very forgivable, though unfortunate, action in my book. I'll forgive him for taking two days off to make a rap album also, because, honestly, who cares. It's in the past. It's another thing entirely to abandon your dogs for three months without care. Justice passes this off as if it were a parking violation or something, when character-wise, it ranks up there with his domestic violence charge as the most egregious thing he has done.


The Review Chick said...

I agree with nearly everything you say in this post. Justice has been irritating me all morning with his shtick.

One thing I don't believe you said though is that "Who we know will leave everything he has and more on the court, which is more than can be said about most of the Rockets' current roster."

That isn't true. If you watched this team during the streak last year, every one of those players on the roster left everything on the floor. Night in and night out.

Other than that you hit the nail on the head. Justice doesn't have a foot to stand on after his ridiculous comments today.

Does Ron have a history.. yes. Is he worth taking a chance on.. yes!

grungedave said...

Nice to see I'm not the only one posting today about how Richard Justice's opinion is a bunch of crap.

Loren said...

@Review Chick

Yeah, that comment was directed mainly at the Mac Attack. I love Scola, Battier, Landry, Dikembe, Brooks, etc.

@Grunge Dave
I'm not from Houston so I don't read the Chron too often, but I managed to catch this post and was astonished. It's kind of disappointing to see that he has had a history.