Ron Artest jokes he'll spend rescinded fine money on In-N-Out Burgers
After initially expressing indifference toward the league rescinding his technical fouls and accompanying $4,000 fine in the Lakers' 99-92 loss Sunday to the Clippers, forward Ron Artest acknowledged relief.
"I didn't want to just give it away," Artest said at his locker before the Lakers' game at Staples Center Monday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. "I could've bought 10,000 In-N-Out Burgers. I rather would've done that than give it away. I'm going to get 10 burgers [after the game]. I love In-N-Out. It's addicting. It's the only reason I'm here in L.A. If it wasn't for In-N-Out Burger, I probably would've gone to Memphis or something."
That doesn't exactly sound like the right thing to do, considering Artest said he slimmed down to 250 pounds this offseason so he could better defend mobile scorers, such as Thunder forward Kevin Durant. But rarely does anything sound logical coming from Artest. After initially expressing sympathy for the difficulties officials face in calling a game, he then joked that an unnamed official wore Fruit of the Loom underwear a little too tight.
"Maybe one guy has got to loosen up his Fruit of the Looms. I'm not going to say his name. One guy got tight Fruit of the Looms," Artest said. "He definitely has Fruit of the Looms that are super tight. He should do a commercial. He should do a commercial with extra mediums Fruit of the Looms, the tight one. He should do a little kid commercial of a man wearing little kid underwear."
The assessment from Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was more on point: "They were being overly cautious. The league rightfully checked it out and rescinded the technical." That also happened last week to Lakers center Andrew Bynum after being ejected against the New York Knicks.
The situation started with 5.7 seconds left in the game when Clippers forward Blake Griffin positioned himself rather physically in front of Odom to get the rebound after Randy Foye's free throw. Explaining afterward that he took offense to Griffin playing with that kind of intensity with the result all but official, Odom tugged on Griffin's jersey and continued to do so after Foye made the free throw. After Odom jawed at Griffin, the Clippers forward put his hands up to indicate that he didn't want the altercation to escalate. Then Clippers guard Baron Davis to run across the court and entered the fray to separate Odom from Griffin, pushing Odom slightly away from his teammate. Odom then put his hands on Davis' arm, prompting Artest to pull Odom away. The sequence resulted in the ejections of Odom, Davis, Artest and Griffin, who also had his technical and fine rescinded.
Jackson said he still hasn't looked at the replay of the incident, but he found little issue with the intensity Griffin displayed late in the game.
"There's some players who play full out," Jackson said. "Mark Madsen used to do that all the time in practice and guys would say, 'Come on Mark. Take it easy.' We had players like that who just played hard and maybe Blake's like that. Maybe he's one of those kids who plays hard all the time."
Before Artest went off on several different directions, Fruit of the Loom and In-N-Out Burgers among them, the Lakers forward mostly toed the politically correct line.
Consider his take on the following topics: The contention from Jackson and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant that Artest gets unfavorable treatment from officiating ("We got all each other's back here. We're a team"); on his relationship with the officials ("I got a good relationship with the referees. I even sensed it on teams I was on when I was the go-to guy."); on the officiating against the Clippers ("It's their business. Whatever they think is best for their business. I think that's what they have to do. I don't worry about how they're reffing. They have a hard job. Referees have a hard job. It's all right. The referees have a hard job. What are you going to do. They have a hard job. I thought it was a good call yesterday. I'm glad it got rescinded. It was a good call. They made sure nothing would escalate. I wanted to help my teammate. The game is over and you're down nine (points) with 5.7 seconds left. That's a good ejection.").
But there was one thing over which Artest expressed relief, not having to cough up $4,000, considering he wants to spend them on, you know, In-N-Out Burgers.
"I didn't want to pay that," Artest said. "That was on my mind, more than the technical himself. I was like, 'Come on, I don't want to give away money like that.' "
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Photo: Lakers and Clippers players scuffle in the final minute of Sunday's game. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times