Ron Artest and sports psychology
Before Sunday's win over the Clippers, Ron Artest spoke at length with the media about his work with a sports psychologist, something he began last year while with the Rockets. Gaining control of his competitive nature is something with which Artest has long struggled, particularly early in his career. Managing losses, keeping his ego in check. That sort of thing. At his introductory press conference, Artest spoke frankly of his past, acknowledging major mistakes and lamenting a track record as a bad teammate.
Now Artest believes he's on a much healthier path, in part because of a solid support system that includes a psychological outlet, something that will continue in LA.
Andy and I talked with Artest for a few more minutes after the scrum around him broke up. As a kid, Artest said this sort of guidance (in the form of a school counselor) was very effective for him, and when he got away from it his behavior suffered. Young people, though, can be made by authority figures to seek help. Adults, not so much, and the culture of professional sports can make reaching out and accepting it even harder. Whether called counseling, therapy, or sports psychology, to seek it out by definition recognizes personal vulnerabilities and weaknesses often tough for many athletes to admit. "Not for me," Artest said.
It's tough to debate that Artest is wired differently than your average Joe, but he's also extremely self-aware. As much as any athlete I've encountered, he owns his character flaws and transgressions. In the long run, given the winning he's likely to experience in LA and the airtight team structure around him, there are just as many encouraging signs about Artest and how he'll fit in as concerns. More, even.
If it doesn't work, I believe his behavior or perceived instability will be low on the list of reasons why.