No Disney Ending to Fairytale Journey
Imagine Disney World’s world famous log flume ride, Splash Mountain. Keep the charming characters, the quant villages; don’t touch any of the thatched houses or the gang of singing creatures. Leave the scary drop where is, snip out the Happy Ending of Hoorahs and insert a monstrous drop similar to the closing plummet except only ten times worse, at the very start of the attraction.
Droves of home fans are leaving; hell, there’s less than 50 seconds left and the Pistons are down by 15. What seemed like a last ditch effort to salvage the score sheets was interrupted when young Pacers forward Ron Artest, fresh from St. Johns where he was sent to Chicago in the first round of the draft, fouled veteran and well-known bruiser Ben Wallace from behind. Before anyone could wrap their hands around what was going on, the game was cancelled and instantaneously made national news.
The 2010 NBA finals, a dramatic series which featured a classic game 7 showdown between two of the league’s most storied franchises in the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers topped their rival in Hollywood fashion, granted Kobe Bryant was labeled as the series MVP, but it was one of the sport’s most frowned upon athletes who not only stole the show with his bizarre but totally characteristic press conference but also with his exceptional play on the court. A little over 6 years before Ron Artest’s tattooed torso was seasoned with confetti and his sweat masked by a steady flow of tears after winning his first NBA Championship, he made headlines and secured a spot in one of American Athletics’ darkest hours with his participation in the “Malice at the Palace”. Artest was blamed for provoking, instigating, and then escalating the post-hard foul tussle with Ben Wallace into an all out frenzy in which 9 players were suspended for their part in the brawl that flowed into the crowd, thus resulting in 10 criminal charges, 5 of which were dealt to athletes of either side. Artest was a member of the Indianapolis Pacers at the time, and has since bounced around to a handful of teams before being traded to LA where he joined NBA mega-star Kobe Bryant in an attempt to bring a title back to Hollywood. Despite pleading his maturity, the Queens native made it hard for his loose-cannon reputation to stay behind him after selecting jersey number 37 to pay homage to the number of weeks Michael Jackson’s Thriller stayed atop the charts as #1 song. With all his antics and wacky hair-do’s in the passenger seat, it was the role playing Artest who stole the show in the 2010 Playoffs. Just as a reliable role-player is suppose to be, Ron was a dependable asset to the team: in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, Artest hit the game winning shot, and in the very next game he secured the Laker’s spot in the Finals by scoring 25 points in a game against the Suns. In Game 6 of the Finals, facing elimination in front of his home fans, Artest managed to snag virtually every 50/50 ball, draw a charge late in the game and played tenacious defense against Celtics scorer Paul Pierce to complement 15 points in the Finals win. Game 7 was the ultimate performance for the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year; Ron Artest dropped 20 points including the team’s last field goal, a crucial three pointer, as his game life to the NBA Championship LA Lakers. Following his stellar showing in the 2010, “Artest” has served as a catalyst for social justice, winning the NBA’s J. Walter Kenny’s citizenship award in 2011, and even legally changing his name to Metta World Peace since his victory, in hopes of bringing attention to gang violence. At this point in your journey if you aren’t humming along with the medley of caroling critters then you don’t deserve to walk through the gates of the Magic Kingdom.
Sounds the beating drum and queue the apocalyptical storm in the distance; have the purple and gold varmint, who has been escorting us on this journey, enter a dark forest of dead trees and a few hooting owls. If you’ve ever been to Disney, now’s the point in the ride where you start to hear the gears crank and start to feel your log hit a steep, heart-wrenching ascent…signaling the imminent plummet.
Turn out the lights the party’s over, Ron Artest’s liberated reputation has come to an end. Serving as the perfect example of role players whose’ outputs are as unpredictable as their mere existence in the league, World Peace showed how much of a liability he truly is last night in the Laker’s 2OT victory over the top seeded Thunder. After a fast break dunk and duo of chest-beats, the same man who claims avocation for a stop to gang violence cocked back his elbow and blatantly applied all 260 lbs. of force in a flying elbow that connected with James Harden’s head in a fashion only to be compared to Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s trademarked Left Hook. Despite an award-winning effort to convince the ref that he was only celebrating and many fake apologies over twitter, Metta was caught red-handed elbowed, committing a cheap shot that left the basketball world aghast, Harden knocked out, and many critics claiming ‘I told you So’. What makes this atrocity so mind-blowingly immature was its lack of necessity: the technical foul was delivered not only in a regular season game, not just in a game lacking any playoff implications, not only was the victim a soft-spoken, defenseless opponent, but the game was not even to halftime before Metta World Peace finally snapped. Flash! Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop afterwards to see how scared you actually looked. After many trivial hiccups and shenanigans obscuring the public’s vision of World Peace, it will be this inane moment alone that will revert all eyes and memories back to the November night of the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Just as one of the passengers nestled in the rubber log feels aboard Splash mountain, I too brush away the series of Zippidy-Doo-Da’s that once were associated with Metta World Peace, for I am too occupied noticing the malicious extent of the very familiar acts of Ron Artest.