Steve Blake takes Ron Artest to school in sandball, but Artest accuses Blake of cheating
Ron Artest threw with the same inaccuracy as his questionable long-range shots. His defense looked nothing like it does on the basketball court. And his conditioning only two weeks removed from the 2010-11 season surely looks like he may want to start off-season workouts early.
Artest's impromptu pickup sandball competition with about 50 fans Sunday on the beaches in Southern California epitomized his fun and down-to-earth persona. But even some of his most passionate fans playfully teased Artest for appearing overmatched with Lakers guard Steve Blake. On one play, Blake threw a blitz on Artest and pressured him into throwing an interception, prompting Artest to charge Blake for counting "5-Mississippi" way quickly before charging the line of scrimmage.
"Steve that was too fast," Artest playfully shouted at him. "We're taking it to [NBA commissioner] David Stern!"
"I just followed the rules," Blake insisted. "They said count to 5 Mississippi and I said 5 Mississippi and then I rushed him. He's not ready for this quickness right now."
When I asked Blake if Artest was just being a sore loser, Blake cracked, "That's what [sore] losers do right?" In turn, Artest responded, "No sore losers. He was being a sore counter, a fast counter."
In fact, Artest had a point. Go to the 1:54 mark in the video above and you'll see Blake blitzed Artest after only three seconds. But as Artest readily conceded of Blake's team, "They went 4-0 today."
There were plenty of memorable moments that defined Artest's fun persona. He kept switching back and forth on whether he wanted the football field to run parallel or perpendicular to the ocean. When he placed a few cones on the sand to mark the end zone, an on-duty lifeguard appeared moments later asking for the cones back. And of course, there was the competition between Artest and Blake.
On the first possession, Blake exposed Artest's poor secondary skills by throwing a touchdown pass to a fan Artest was covering, leading one fan to tease the Laker forward, "You got burned on the first play!" On the next play, Blake scrambled out of the pocket from a blitzing defender and found an open receiver moments later. And plenty of Artest's deep passes proved too difficult to catch.
As someone who has jokingly aspired to play in the NFL after his NBA career is finished, Artest has plenty of areas to fix. Good thing he plans to have a sandball tournament throughout the summer.
"I was horrible," Artest said, laughing. "I just couldn't catch. I couldn't convert nothing. This is all bad. I have a lot of work to do. We're going to break [Blake] in and see the next game, though."
-- Mark Medina
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