Artest wins Citizenship Award
By FRANK ZICARELLI, QMI Agency
|Los Angeles Lakers' Ron Artest fights for a rebound with New Orleans Hornets' Carl Landry and Aaron Gray during Game 2 of their NBA Western Conference first round playoff basketball game in Los Angeles, California April 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)
TORONTO - The side show that used to characterize Ron Artest no longer rears its ugly head.
When you mention Artest, the word champion is forever etched to his name.
And now the moniker of outstanding citizen is added.
On Tuesday, Artest was chosen as this year’s recipient of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, an honour that recognizes outstanding service and dedication to the community.
In the aftermath of the infamous malice at the Palace brawl in 2004, the words community and Artest were as far apart as the distance the Raptors have to go to win a championship.
From that lowest of lows, Artest has slowly changed his image, culminating with Tuesday’s award.
It’s widely known that the man known as Ron-Ron raffled off his championship ring to mental health awareness.
When it comes to head cases in the NBA, there’s no shortage of candidates and it used to include Artest.
Had it not been for Artest taking his game to another level, the Lakers would not have repeated as champions last year in their epic seven-game series against the Celtics.
The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award is the oldest citizenship and community service award in the NBA and is named in honour of the league’s second commissioner who served from 1963 to 1975.
The winner is selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. Orlando’s Dwight Howard, Portland’s Marcus Camby and Philadelphia’s Kyle Korver were the other nominees.
Montreal-raised Samuel Dalembert of the Sacramento Kings received the award last season in recognition of his efforts to provide relief to earthquake victims in his native Haiti.