Ron Artest, Toronto Would Love You...
Lets kick this baby off with a disclaimer:
This is not a "wishful thinking" piece that is going to eloquently opine on Ron Artest riding into town and becoming more valuable for the Raps than Ari Gold is to 'Entourage". That's not my style. (By the way... If anyone knows exactly what my style is, could you email me? Honestly, it would really help me out. Thanks.)
What am I here to do, exactly?
In case you've forgotten, we're coming up on the one-year anniversary of the Raptors trading Vince Carter and $10 million dollars for two stiffs and a complementary enema for the entire organization.
I think everybody would agree; this was a seminal moment in the history of the National Basketball Association. Not only did it set in motion of series of events that has seen the Raptors become the Ben Mulroney of the Canadian sporting landscape, but it made the following scenario entirely plausible:
Ron Artest to the Raps, for Morris Peterson and Joey Graham.
Before you pan this suggestion, can we first agree that the aforementioned scenario makes more sense than the Vince Carter trade? Ok...? Super. Now, lets debate.
Why Should Ron-Ron play for the Raptors? (This wont be nearly as much fun as the next list.)
1. He would immediately be the best player on the team. All Star, Former Defensive Player of the Year, Lover of Women.
2. The Raptors aren't good. (I am being polite.) Yes, I realize that they're showing a little progress. Having said that, I recently caught myself tapping my foot to a Clay Aiken song. The lesson: everything is relative.
3. The team has zero personality. Jalen Rose has the potential to be a member of the all-media team. Unfortunately, he currently would have trouble pulling down twenty minutes for the New York Liberty. That makes him tough to take seriously.
Last time I checked the Raptors were only 7.5 games out of first place. When Chris Webber and Allen Iverson start missing time for Philadelphia and Vince takes his maternity leave from the Nets, are you telling me the Raps couldn't make things mildly interesting in an absolutely horrific division with a 400% upgrade at their small forward position? More importantly, in an increasingly ridiculous hockey market that recently saw the OPP put out an "Amber Alert" when Eric Lindros injured his wrist. Don't the Raps need to make some kind of splash?
Why Should the Raptors not trade for Ron Artest?
1. Well, fresh off a 73 game suspension for attempting to donkey-punch an innocent bystander. Mr. Artest has used the media to solicit a trade from a team that publicly supported him through the worst time of his professional life. Good guy.
2. Teams should always be weary of people that are completely insane.
3. Because... If Chris Bosh morphs into the next Kevin Garnett, Charlie V. keeps maturing, Joey Graham gains some confidence, Jose Calderon becomes the Spanish Steve Nash, Alvin Williams' knee miraculously heals and Sam Mitchell becomes the next Phil Jackson... This thing could work out.
(Glad we were able to break that down - onto my point. You only had to read 550 words to be rewarded.)
If for some reason this situation actually presents over the next couple of weeks, the barrage of columns from the local scribes is more predictable than Britney kicking Kevin out of the house over the weekend.
Here's what the central theme will be: "Artest is not fit for Toronto." "Someone of questionable character shouldn't be the direction the Raptors take." "Ron Artest wants to be in the hip-hop industry, and hip-hop, is scary."
Let me get this straight. Currently, Tie Domi is arguably the most popular player on the Toronto Maple Leafs, which is remarkable when you consider that he has a longer rap sheet than our buddy Ron. Sucker-punching Ulf Samuelsson, attempting to injure Scott Neidermayer, goading and then pummeling a Philadelphia fan when he fell into the penalty box. So where is the searing piece from Steve Simmons demanding Tie be shipped to Nashville? Why didn't the phone lines at The Fan 590 erupt when the Leafs overpaid for Tie Domi - again - this summer?
And just for the record - If Samuelsson or Neidermayer had broken their necks, both incidents would have been just as deplorable as Todd Bertuzzi's attack on Steve Moore. So, there.
Domi's behavior, and the subsequent reaction from the public would actually intimate that not only would Ron Artest be welcome in Toronto, he would be embraced. What's more - and this is really, quite sad - the highlight of the Raptors season last year was the skirmish where Matt Bonner tried to goon Kevin Garnett. A Raptor hasn't been cheered this vociferously since Charles Oakley still had his Winnebago parked in Hogtown. Don't believe me? An ENCYCLOPEDIA lists the incident in Bonner's jacket.
Bottom line: If somebody - anybody - is going to take the stance that Ron Artest isn't fit to represent the city of Toronto, using the excuse that the locals wouldn't like it doesn't fly. Unless, I suppose, the writer admits to a double standard that allows hockey players like Wade Belak to do their best impersonation of a Tyson opponent from the late 80's, but does not permit Ron Artest to have one spectacular, well-publicized meltdown.
(A double standard like that is indicative of something else entirely.)
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