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Ron Artest appears on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' ... with clothes on

October 21, 2010 |  8:00 am

One can't help but feel happy about how much Ron Artest has grown.

He won his first NBA championship, has earned accolades for his charitable work involving mental-health issues, and he returned Wednesday to "Jimmy Kimmel Live" with actual clothes on, which wasn't the case a year ago.

That doesn't mean his attire didn't raise eyebrows. Instead of wearing checkered boxers, Artest sported a fake beard, cowboy hat, a T-shirt promoting his new iPhone application, football shorts, socks and slippers. No wonder Kimmel called him "the most entertaining man in professional sports."

"Ron," Kimmel asked, "have you been missing in the woods?"

"This grew in one day," Artest said, pointing to his fake beard. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson "was talking to me. He was meditating, and my beard started to grow." Later on, Kimmel revisited Artest's wardrobe: "Are you aware that if I saw you on the street, I would think you're a homeless person?"

Said Artest: "Sometimes I think the same way."

Yes, it was a grand time had by all. Artest and Kimmel threw a football around, talked about receiving the keys to Las Vegas, getting pulled over this summer in a race car and his affection for singer Céline Dion. But the conversation also turned serious, touching on why Artest is so insistent about auctioning off his championship ring.

"We're auctioning it off for a good cause," Artest said. "I don't think I'm a good spokesperson today because of how I'm dressed, but we're going to auction it off for mental-health awareness."

Laker fans remain split on Artest's initiative, with some loving how his goofy public persona and outlandish idea will help the community and some believing he'll regret the decision and should auction off something else. But Laker fans will surely rejoice in unision over topics such as these: the significance of wearing No. 15 ("15 means nonstop defense"), whether he's worried about LeBron James and the Miami Heat ("No. We have Kobe") and why he wants to see the Lakers match up with the Celtics in the NBA Finals ("I'll be looking forward to seeing that cat and dog fight.").

-- Mark Medina

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