By the numbers, Ron Artest is struggling right now. He’s shooting just 29% from the field and 50% at the free-throw line through the first three games of the Finals, averaging 7.7 points and 4.0 fouls per game. But looking beyond the numbers, Artest has been effectively making life difficult for Paul Pierce and continues playing his trademark lock-down defense during the playoffs. With the Lakers two wins away from another championship, their biggest ’09 offseason pickup is looking like a success.
We decided to chat with his Ron’s brother, New York City playground star and overseas pro Daniel Artest, to ask him what he thinks of Ron’s first season with the Lakers. Daniel also told us how he’s trying to make it in the basketball world, and the interesting story of how he met his agent.
*** *** ***
Dime: What have you been up to lately?
Daniel Artest: I’m at this exposure camp in Chicago. I’m trying to play overseas. It’s going pretty well.
Dime: Have you heard anything from any specific teams?
DA: There are two scouts from Argentina that are definitely looking at me. I’ve been playing pretty well. I made the camp all-star game.
Dime: What are some of the differences between your game and your brother Ron’s game?
DA: We’re both power players. He is more defensive-minded than I am. We both play the same, though, big guys who post up or shoot the jumper and play solid defense.
Dime: How would you analyze Ron’s performance in the NBA Finals so far?
DA: Even though he was not making any shots at the beginning, he stuck with his game and he never changed for the Celtics. A lot of players would usually have to adjust to the other team, but Ron stuck with his shot and it’ll start falling through for him.
Dime: How would your game translate on the NBA level?
DA: If I were to have taken basketball seriously when I was younger, I know I could have been there. My game would have been similar to Ron’s game. I don’t really have a set position, but I would most likely play some small forward and power forward. I’m only 6-5, but my strength and rebounding ability would have kept me around. Basically, I would be like DeJuan Blair but with a better jump shot.
Dime: When you were growing up, how did the one-on-one games go with Ron?
DA: Ron won most of the time. We had a lot of tough battles. I got Ron this one time, though. I dunked on him pretty hard but he won’t talk about it with me anymore. He definitely made me a better player. He taught me how to play hard on every possession.
Dime: Could coaching be in the future for Ron?
DA: Ron knows the game of basketball well. He has a great basketball mind — a lot of people don’t know that. Typically, people see the other side of Ron and don’t think he knows the game.
Dime: After Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals, I heard that he went straight to the weight room right after.
DA: He does that all the time. He’s very dedicated to basketball and all the hard work is paying off now. I’m glad he’s in the position to possibly win a championship. As a fan, I’m happy for him. As a family member, after he hit that game-winning shot, I was overcome with emotions. It was amazing.
Dime: You played in the NBA Summer League last year, right?
DA: Yes, I played for the Sacramento Kings. I didn’t really get in that much, but just to be in that position was great. A lot of people thought I only made it because Ron was my brother, but I actually earned that spot. I took one shot the whole time and I actually made it.
Dime: You have a pretty interesting story on how you met your agent, Patrick Lee.
DA: Pat is a great guy. I was on Twitter one day and I was looking for an agent. I just told everyone that I needed an agent and Pat told me he would take me on. He’s stuck with me through a lot. I quit basketball briefly. When I told him, he just would not let me quit. I’m glad he didn’t let me quit, too, because I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in right now. He really cares about his players and I think he’s a guy who could have a good future.
Dime: Why did you try to quit playing basketball in the first place?
DA: Well, everyone gets to that age. I’m 27 years old and I thought I couldn’t get anywhere in the basketball world. Now I’m working out every day trying to get somewhere.