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Ron Artest says he hasn't anticipated emotions surrounding ring ceremony

October 24, 2010 |  2:55 pm

Lakers forward Ron Artest remained in the locker room as the team took the floor.

The Lakers were about to receive their 2008-09 championship rings just before their season opener last fall, and Artest believed he wasn't deserving to observe the events. He played for the Houston Rockets the previous season and had taken on the Lakers in the playoffs. Viewing the ceremony would bring up hurtful memories about a Houston season fallen short. And he wanted the awkward separation to serve as motivation for eventually partaking in a ring ceremony.

That time is quickly approaching with the Lakers set to receive their 2009-10 championship rings Tuesday before their season opener against Houston. The ceremony will serve as another symbol in Artest's adversarial 11-year career as it comes full circle, continuing the nostalgia Artest has experienced since winning the title in June and beginning the process of his plan to raffle off his championship ring. The raffle begins Oct. 27, when fans can purchase a minimum of five raffle tickets for $2 each through Artest's website. Those proceeds will benefit Xcel University, a charity Artest supports, with funds directed toward two as-yet-determined mental-health causes.

With all those storylines surrounding the season opener, I figured it'd only be natural that Artest has had plenty on his mind this last week. Turns out I was wrong.

"Not until just now," Artest said.

So if Artest feels overwhelmed with emotion during the ceremony and opens the 2010-11 season on a poor note, feel free to blame this one on me for bringing up the issue.

In all seriousness, Artest plans to move forward with the raffle and the season.

"I'm only disappointed because I heard the rings will be really big this year. I heard it's going to be outstanding and be the best we ever got," Artest said. "I know I'm going to like it. I already know. I want to look at it. I can't wait to look at it."

Even among Laker fans that have appreciated Artest's work ethic and goofy antics, there's been plenty of concern that he could raffle off something else more disposable, than say, a championship ring. But Artest has Phil Jackson's full blessing.

"I really haven't talk to him about it," Jackson said. "It's motivation for him. It's great. Use whatever he can to motivate himself."

--Mark Medina

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