The amazing part is of this is not that Ron Artest won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
The amazing part is he deserved it.
Ron Artest — he of the halftime Hennessy drinks, the dog abuse, the Malice at the Palace — has latched on to the cause of promoting mental health and made it his own with the passion he did all those other things before.
He sat on the podium after winning an NBA title and thanked his therapist for helping him get to this point. He from there has taken a number of steps to try and remove some of the stigma from people — particularly youth — from getting mental help.
That included raffling off his prized championship ring to raise money for the cause, donating part of his salary and going before congress to talk about legislation that would make it easier for youth to get mental health services.
“Ron has such a passion for the issue, and has demonstrated such leadership he was a perfect choice for such a prestigious award,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. “His work embodies the kind of dedication to important causes that NBA players have become known for.”
The 2005 version of me would be stunned by this. But the 2011 version loves it and thinks it fantastic.
And well deserved.
Minnesota is going to be entertaining to watch this season. A healthy Ricky Rubio (hopefully) dishing at the point, Karl-Anthony Towns is already a high-IQ passer, and bench players such as Shabazz Muhammad and Adreian Payne have shown some skills.
Then there’s Andrew Wiggins. The reigning Rookie of the Year developed quickly last season — particularly his jump shot — and he should make a big leap this season. He’s going to dunk on people and end up in a lot of highlight packages while putting up a lot of points.
Enough to set the Minnesota Timberwolves single game scoring record, currently held at 52 by Mo Williams? That’s the question for this PBT Extra with Jenna Corrado.
The Bulls have said Derrick Rose is about a week away from returning after suffering a facial fracture this preseason.
The start of the NBA season is two weeks from today (Oct. 27).
So Rose will be ready to go when the Bulls start their season that first night against Cleveland, right? Don’t bet on it, says Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, quoting coach Fred Hoiberg.
The opening night projection for a Derrick Rose return is a bit murky at this point, as the Bulls are taking a cautious approach to his recovery with Fred Hoiberg essentially ruling him out for the rest of the preseason.
“Most likely (out for the preseason),” Hoiberg said….
In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rose sit out the first handful of games, as the Bulls start the season with a three-game in four-night stretch starting Oct. 27 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, which is in two weeks.
“That will be in consideration, sure,” Hoiberg said. “We gotta make sure, he really hasn’t done anything and that will be a good two or three weeks where he has total inactivity, so just to throw him back out there going 100 percent with his speed and everything, you just don’t want to take any risks, chances, where it could be a lingering issue.”
Just what TNT and the NBA hoped for with an opening night Bulls vs. Cavaliers showcase: Kirk Hinrich vs. Mo Williams. (Don’t forget Kyrie Irving will miss the start of the season recovering from his knee surgery.)
Of course, this is the smart play for the Bulls who need to be thinking about getting Rose fully healthy and focusing on what condition he will be come April 27, not Oct. 27.
And of course, a lot of Bulls fans who are down on Rose will slam him for this. Even though the injury was a freak accident and the team is right to be patient.
Rose could play opening night, if he gets back to practice next week and can get closer to basketball shape. But I wouldn’t bet on it.