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Ron Artest jokingly advises Times Lakers blogger to declare for the NBA Draft

January 15, 2011 |  5:45 pm

Artest_300 Somehow the conversation steered from Blake Griffin's athletic ability to my NBA draft prospects.

But that's what happens when you talk to Ron Artest. You never know what direction the conversation will veer.

An innocent conversation started about Griffin's penchant for highlight-reel plays, a topic that led Artest last month to joke, "I hope he dunks on me." This time, that topic led to a discussion about Griffin's athleticism and how he played multiple sports growing up, including football, before solely focusing on basketball after his freshman year of high school. Artest, who has stated multiple times he'd like to play in the NFL and box whenever he retires, offered a campaign speech he might want to reiterate should he decide one day seek to oversee the President's Council on Physical Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.

"He could definitely be a football player, easily," Artest said of Griffin. "We are so stuck on you play in this sport and that's it in America or anywhere in the world. You can do whatever you want to do, I believe. I want to start that trend. I'm too old, but I can still try. The younger athlete, they should try everything. You can be whatever you want to be."

Then Artest cast his eyes on me.

"You can be a reporter and a football player," Artest argued.

"I couldn't be, though," I answered. "I'm pretty skinny."

Couldn't really argue with that, so Artest pitched an alternative.

"You could put your name in the NBA draft," he said.

"I'm a horrible basketball player," I replied.

"You could put your name in the NBA draft."

"Nobody would pick me, though."

"I know," Artest countered, "but you could put your name in the draft."

Figuring Artest didn't see the video featuring The Times' Melissa Rohlin and I playing pick-up basketball at Venice Beach -- where I lacked any quickness, athleticism or jumping ability -- I gave Artest a brief rundown of what happened. Artest still remained unconvinced.

"Yeah, but you could try out," he argued. "That's the thing. You could try out."

I have a feeling that a Laker tryout would go something like this: Kobe Bryant blows past me within a single breath. Artest knocks me to the floor. And the likes of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown posterize me. But if Artest says I have a shot, maybe, just maybe I'll put my mind to it.

Hmm, let me think about that. . . .

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest collides with Nets power forward Kris Humphries in Friday night's 100-88 victory over New Jersey at Staples Center. One can only imagine what would happen if Artest ran into Lakers blogger Mark Medina, whose about 60 percent the size of Humphries. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times