Lakers’ Artest offers Tiger encouragement
CHICAGO – Lakers forward Ron Artest says an open letter to Tiger Woods that was posted on his Web site was meant to encourage the golf superstar because Artest believes media coverage of Woods’ mistakes has been unfair.
“I just really disagree, I guess you call it backlash,” Artest said Wednesday. “Hopefully, he gets everything in order and gets back on track, his personal (life). Then after that I can't wait to see him play golf again.”
Artest said he was motivated to write the letter after talking with friends because of the negative coverage Woods has received since acknowledging marital infidelity following his Nov. 27 car accident near his Orlando-area home.
Artest doesn't know Woods and does not want the golfer to contact him about the comments he published Tuesday on his Web site.
In his post, Artest called Woods a perfect role model while sharing some of his own story, including that he fathered a child with another woman after having two with his girlfriend who later became his wife. Artest said in his blog he now has two boys and two girls.
“I just felt it was a situation where we heard one of the greatest is not going to play golf, a sport that he loves,” Artest said. “OK, look at me. I'm over here in L.A., having a great season, back on track and I make way more mistakes than him. Hopefully that's some words of encouragement.”
Artest's blog post called Woods a “perfect role model for me and my sons.”
He said Wednesday that Woods “still is” a perfect role model and that he would tell his sons nothing about Woods’ admissions because the golfer's personal life is none of their business.
“I don't get into somebody's personal (life),” said Artest, whose team was in Milwaukee to play the Bucks on Wednesday night. “You always raise your kids the right way and let them know what's right and wrong and when they get older, they'll make their own decisions.”
Artest also shot down a question about the availability of women who might want to be associated with professional athletes.
“That's not true. No,” he said. “There are a lot of good husbands.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson, an avid reader known to recommend books, doesn't check out Artest's blog.
“No, I haven't started reading it,” Jackson said with a wry smile. “I'm happy to deal with him in terms of professional standing, you know?”
Since signing with the Lakers, the 30-year-old Artest has made other headlines. He recently appeared in only his shorts for “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and told a magazine he would drink during halftime of games while with Chicago after buying alcohol at a liquor store down the street.
“I don't get in trouble. Media blows it up, but I never look at myself as getting in trouble because I don't care what people say about me,” he said.
Artest is as well known for his volatile personality as his basketball skill. While playing for the Indiana Pacers, he was the central figure in the Nov. 19, 2004, brawl with fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a road game against the Detroit Pistons. Artest was suspended for 73 games, the NBA's harshest punishment for a fight.
Artest and the Lakers play in Detroit on Sunday.
“I'm different. But I don't mind when people talk about me,” Artest said. “I didn't mind getting backlash from media. It's a little different situation.”
Not even Artest is sure whether Tiger will regain his once-dominant stature.
“It's hard to say because there's nothing that he can really – family wise is the only thing. ... That's the only recovery,” Artest said. “Golf, I don't know if that's a recovery. He'll just be playing, playing a sport that he loves and hopefully he comes back soon.”