Ron Artest remains open to playing overseas in Europe
Huddled up in a backstage room at the Brea Improv Comedy Club, Lakers forward Ron Artest didn't seem at all concerned about an NBA lockout.
He retold his material to some of the comedians he introduced in a show Friday night. He enjoyed the salmon and mashed potatoes that awaited him afterward. And in his mind at this point, it's too early to worry about a lost season.
"When the season happens, it's going to happen," Artest said. "When they say it's here, we're going to be ready. It's not really a lockout though because the season [isn't affected]. But if there's no season, then it's a lockout."
There's one point he at least conceded regarding the lockout. Artest still remains open to playing overseas in Europe.
"I'll go," Artest said. "It depends. If I can go, I'll go."
Artest didn't share what's going to be the ultimate factor in determining where he would play. He also offered no specific teams that he'd actually consider playing for amid reports that he's nearing a deal with the Cheshire Jets of the British Basketball League. FIBA announced Friday that it will clear NBA players under contract to play in overseas leagues so long as they return to the NBA once the lockout ends, but that doesn't necessarily pave the way for Artest.
Amid false reports that Artest would play in Finland, his agent, David Bauman, told me last month that the main variable involves whether Artest could get insurance and be protected from possible injury. When I brought that point up to Artest, he didn't sound concerned.
"You just have to work," said Artest, who has a three-year, $21-million contract remaining with the Lakers. "If you get fired, you have to get work. If you're not getting paid, you have to find a job."
Should Artest find one, for better and worse, he would want the same opportunities that being with the Lakers has afforded him. You know, things like doing comedy shows.
"I'm just trying to have fun," he said. "If I go somewhere, whatever I do in L.A., it'll be the same thing over there. If I go overseas, I want to be able to have fun with the fans and with the people. I don't want to be bored. I want to be somewhere where we can play ball and have fun. That's why I'm interested in the U.K., because I can really go there and make it a rap show. Just play ball, be crazy and entertain. I want to entertain."
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Photo: Ron Artest. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times