If you have been following the career of Ron Artest, you already know that he is a seriously troubled young man. You also know that he has been working hard to become a better person. At this point in his life, he needs help, guidance and understanding. In the past year, he has been seeking assistance from Mental Health Professionals for himself, and for others. He has also made significant financial contributions to those who are in need of mental health assistance.
He changed his name from Ron Artest to Metta World Peace as a part of his effort to control his internal demons. In my opinion, he is now a much better person than he was in the early days of his NBA career.
I was a television viewer of the game between the Thunder and the Lakers. World Peace at just scored on a driving layup, and he seemed to be quite happy with himself. Then, almost before I realized it, James Harden was on the floor. The replays, which were in slow motion, showed that World Peace had hit him in the face with his left elbow. Let there be no mistake about it, it was a powerful blow. The replays also showed that World Peace did not actually see Harden, since he was looking in a different direction. However, he could sense his presence, and it appears that Harden intended to annoy him. If that was his intention, then he was much more successful than he ever intended to be.
A part of me believes that World Peace was beginning an exuberant, joyous celebration, after he had just scored on a driving, difficult layup. Then, he sensed that Harden was unnecessarily crowding into his space, and that he intended to swat him away, as if he was a fly. This could have grown into a much uglier incident, but the players on the opposing teams remained on their benches.
PLAYOFF GAMES BETWEEN THE CLIPPERS AND THE LAKERS?
When you consider the Mayan Calendar prediction that the world will end in 2012, and the possibility that the Clippers will actually make the playoffs, then you know that we are living in uncertain times. Due to an unbelievable set of circumstances, orchestrated by NBA Commissioner David Stern, Chris Paul wound up becoming a Clipper, instead of being a Laker. At that point, the die was cast the Curses of the Clippers seem to be still active, when Chauncey Billups suffered a season ending injury. However, this year, this team was not to be deterred. Now, there is a real possibility of a seven-game Playoff Series between our hometown teams. I don't think this has ever happened in the NBA. The media will go nuts, and the local fans will be in a frenzy. We are hoping to see Kobe vs Blake, and Ramon vs Chris. It just cannot get much better than this.
On the college basketball scene, UCLA has found at least four all world players. However, this does not necessarily signal the beginning of a new dynasty for Coach Ben Howland. They will have a great team next season, but at least two of three of them are likely to be in the NBA, after spending one year in Westwood. The Trojans have become the Clippers of college basketball. They now play their games in one of the most beautiful facilities in the world. It was surprising to many of their fans that Athletic Director Pat Haden did not bring in a top-flight coach. If the Trojans can't field a respectable team, then perhaps they should abandon basketball altogether, and just concentrate on football.
Mike Garrett made major contributions to the athletic programs at USC. He revitalized the dormant football program. He was the driving force in getting the Galen Center built. He could not have known that the Reggie Bush Family was breaking the NCAA rules by accepting money. I suspect that when he found out about it, he could not bring himself to report them. Right or wrong, it is incredibly difficult to report the wrongdoings of the people you care about. Joe Paterno couldn't do it, and neither could Jim Tressel.
I have been unable to find out if the NCAA has banned Garrett from the campus at USC. If they have not, then it is time for the University to acknowledge the good things that happened while he was there. When Garrett was there, he had to hire Kevin O Neill to coach the basketball team, because no one else wanted the job. The team did not have a decent place to either practice or play. That has all changed now, and it is up to Haden to get someone like Shaka Smart or Tommy Amaker to coach the team. Both Haden and his Assistant J. K. McKay are football people, and that may be the problem that USC has to overcome. The less than mediocre performance of the Trojan basketball team is quite simply due to incompetence.