by Eldon Khorshidi / @eldonadam
Over the weekend, the gracious people at AXE invited SLAMonline out east to Southampton, Long Island, to interview the ever-interesting Ron Artest. It was a good deal with even better perks: an all-inclusive day in Southampton with hotel and food accommodations, and a night out at AXE Lounge to interview and spend time with Ron.
Essentially, the company takes over the club for the season, and throws several parties with special guests making unannounced appearances. Chris Bosh, Kemba Walker, Dennis Rodman, and a number of celebrities have spent time there, and last week it was Ron and SLAMonline’s turn. We met Ron at AXE Lounge around 11 p.m. Saturday, interviewed him from 11:30 to 12 a.m., then went inside to chill for the night. The plan was simple and the execution was perfect. And as usual, Ron was great. We touched on a number of topics, including the ongoing lockout (and possible overseas destinations), his recent name change, a developing comedy career, and his expectations for next season.
Special shout-out to the guys at AXE for showing SLAM love and organizing an epic weekend.
SLAM: How are you enjoying AXE Lounge? It’s a pretty cool place, huh?
Ron Artest: Yeah man this is a great time. The Hamptons are always cool, and AXE is really holding it down tonight. Loving the energy and the atmosphere here.
SLAM: How’s your summer going so far? What’ve you been up to lately?
RA: It’s going pretty good. You know, just been working out a lot. I just got back from a little vacation, so I took a break from playing ball for a few days. But for the most part, this summer has been a lot of basketball and a lot of entertaining. Basically a little bit of everything.
SLAM: I hear you. How’s the lockout affecting you so far? Is your mindset and mental schedule a little off, just knowing that the future is uncertain and that you can’t contact any team personnel?
RA: You know, because I’m so busy the lockout hasn’t really hit me yet. Also because the season isn’t here yet. Once November 1st comes, then it’s going to be like “man, really?” because November 1st is usually when basketball starts again. But so far it’s just been a regular summer for me, which is what I want. I got to stay in my rhythm and handle the stuff I can control.
SLAM: As you know, there’s a million and one different reasons for the lockout, and everyone has their own theories on it. One thing I’ve heard is that early November, either the 1st or 15th, will be when the players budge because that’s when they’ll be expecting their first paychecks. You think the absence of the first paycheck could force the players to give in and end this thing?
RA: [Laughs] I mean it’s not necessarily about the money, it’s just about the season and the normal schedule I’m used to. But yeah, that’s why it’s great to finish school. It’s good to have money saved at times like this, ‘cause then you’re really prepared. Everybody’s gotta prepare for stuff like this, because you never know when it’s going to happen. I’m sure this will be a learning experience for a lot of the guys, especially the young ones.
SLAM: I hear you… You don’t seem to be bothered by the lockout in the slightest bit. Are you phased at all?
RA: I mean it is what it is, you know. We gotta get this Collective Bargaining Agreement done. Yo Billy Hunter, David Stern, if you’re listening, we gotta get this done!
SLAM: Have you been speaking to any of your teammates? Been in contact with DFish or Kobe?
RA: Well, um, everybody’s been doing different things you know. Kobe’s been all over the place and DFish is real busy.
SLAM: Yeah man, Kobe’s been all over the place.
RA: Yeah definitely, he’s going hard right now, just working real hard. That’s a determined dude right there.
SLAM: Have you spoken with Billy Hunter or anybody in the Players Union or do you just lay low and stay out of that stuff?
RA: I mean nah, Fisher got it handled you know. Fisher will let us know when it’s necessary for the players as a whole to get involved, but right now he has it handled.