There's almost nothing Ron Artest isn't willing to do.
The Lakers forward conducted a comedy tour this summer, making fun of himself in vulgar fashion. He has expressed giddiness about playing for the British Basketball League's Cheshire Jets despite the team's financial limitations and nondescript nature. He offered a memorable news conference in which he thanked his psychologist following his Game 7 performance of the 2010 NBA Finals. He auctioned off his championship ring for charity. He tried legally changing his name to Metta World Peace.
However, it remains unclear if Artest can add an appearance on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" to his list of unique off-court ventures. Various Internet reports suggested he will be named Monday as part of the cast for the show's 13th season, but Artest's publicist, Courtney Barnes, expressed doubt about that possibility in numerous text messages.
"I know nothing about him appearing on DWTS," Barnes wrote in one message.
In a separate text, Barnes also joked about Artest: "He can't dance."
This isn't the first time Artest has been linked to possibly appearing on the show, which features celebrity dance competitors. In July, various Internet reports suggested the same thing, but Artest said he hadn't been contacted about appearing. "I haven't thought about it yet," he said last month after a comedy show performance at the Brea Improv. I like the show. Obviously, you have to dance. I play defense. I don't know if I dance."
Appearing on the show would also conflict with any venture with the Jets, though Artest's agent, David Bauman, recently expressed skepticism about the latter possibility because of the team's apparent inability to offer insurance.
Should Artest join the show, it would deviate somewhat from comments he made last season, when he told me he couldn't bear an extended run on the series.
"I'd want to go, but I'd want to lose in the first round. I don't want to put my hips in a situation where I'm looking like Rick Fox," Artest said with a smile. "Rick Fox is a great dancer, but I don't want to put my hips in a situation where people are questioning whether I'm a rapper or a singer."
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-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Ron Artest onstage as standup comic. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times