Very few NBA players have gotten as up close and personal with fans as former Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest. After getting nailed with a Diet Coke during a game versus the Detroit Pistons in 2004, Artest climbed into the stands and proceeded to beat up the wrong Pistons fan, starting the now famous “Malice at the Palace” fight that led to a long suspension for Artest and a big PR hit for the Indiana Pacers. Though Artest has been known to do some strange things (he attended several Pacers practices in a bathrobe and once applied for a job at Circuit City just so he could get the employee discount), he has long been a solid player on the professional basketball court. Though no longer a resident of Zionsville, Indiana, Artest lived in the Indianapolis suburb during his time with the Pacers, so he still counts as a famous Zionsville resident. One of the most notorious NBA players in recent history, Ron Artest is nevertheless recognized as a notable resident from Zionsville.
|Video of talk show host Chelsea Lately interviewing former Zionsville, Indiana resident Ron Artest about his NBA career and the Lakers championship|
Born in Queens, New York in 1979, Artest played on the St. John’s University basketball team from 1997 to 1999. Artest’s sterling freshman season at St. John’s earned him Big East All-Rookie honors and a showing at the All Big East Tournament. During his two seasons at St. John’s, Ron Artest led the Red Storm to a 50 – 19 record on his way to an appointment on the First Team All Big-Ten and a finalist for a Wooden Award (named after coach John Wooden). He brought his college team to the Elite Eight in his final season, earning the District II Player of the Year award from the United States Basketball Writers Association. During Artest’s college career, he averaged 13 points a game, 3.2 assists, and 6.3 rebounds a game.
|Video highlights of former Zionsville, Indiana resident Ron Artest’s best defensive moments in the NBA|
A successful run of high profile summer basketball tournaments in New York City combined with his record of college basketball achievement inspired the Chicago Bulls to draft Ron Artest as the 16th pick of the 1999 NBA Draft. Artest remained with the Bulls for two and a half years, and in his first year he was appointed to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. In the 2000 – 2001 season, Artest had the seventh most steals in the NBA and racked up the highest steal and field goal total of any two year rookie in Chicago history. Despite his early successes in Chicago, Ron Artest was traded to the Circle City midway through the 2001 – 2002 season for three players and a second round draft pick.
|Video highlights of a game between the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls; former Zionsville, Indiana resident Ron Artest played for the Bulls in this game|
The move to the Indianapolis sports team would prove to be extremely beneficial for Artest. In the 2003-2004 season, Artest’s first full campaign with the Pacers, the player from Zionsville would have his best season, averaging over 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists a game. He was only one of four players in the entire league to rack up more than 150 steals; these numbers and more caused him to be voted the 2003 -2004 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and get a berth with the NBA All-Defensive First Team. Artest would also appear in the 2004 NBA All-Star game. However, November 19, 2004 would prove to be a turning point in Ron Artest’s career. That was the date of the infamous Malice in the Palace brawl, a fight that earned Artest a 73 game suspension and a salary loss of almost $7 million.
|Video of the infamous “Malice in the Palace” brawl between the Pacers and the Pistons, which involved former Zionsville, Indiana resident Ron Artest|
The Malice at the Palace would have other consequences for Artest. At the start of the 2005 season, Artest requested a trade away from the Pacers, a move that alienated a number of teammates and the coach, Larry Bird. By January of 2006, Artest had been traded from Indiana to the Sacramento Kings, thus ending his time in Zionsville. The Kings resurrected Artest’s career, and it wasn’t long before he was up to his defensive mastery yet again. Artest led his new team to a 14-5 run immediately after joining the Kings, leading to a Western Conference playoff run. However, Artest was suspended in the second game of the first round playoff series; the Kings were eventually eliminated from the runnings.
|Video of former Zionsville, Indiana resident Ron Artest dunking on an unsuspecting Laker during his time with the Kings|
Ron Artest was traded from the Sacramento Kings to the Houston Rockets in 2008. Artest only played for the Rockets for one season before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, his current team, in 2009. In the 2009 – 2010 season, it appeared Artest was back to his old role as a defensive powerhouse, ranking among the top echelons of NBA ball thieves. His skills and that of his teammates led the Lakers to an appearance in the 2010 NBA Finals. In a nail biting seven game series against the Boston Celtics, it was Artest who would deliver the clinching blow for the Lakers. Artest racked up twenty points, five steals, and five rebounds during Game 7, but he also blasted a late fourth quarter three pointer that all but finished the Celtics, hence winning his first championship ring.
|Video of a post game interview with former Zionsville, Indiana resident Ron Artest After the Lakers won the 2010 NBA Finals|
Though Ron Artest didn’t live in Zionsville for very long, he is still one of the more infamous members of the Indiana Pacers. A main component of the “Malice at the Palace” brawl between the Pacers and the Pistons in 2004, Artest has since turned his back on that dark chapter of his career. With the Lakers, Artest still displays the defensive impenetrability he honed during his time at St. John’s University and with the other NBA teams on his resume. In addition to his basketball career, Ron Artest also has an alternate life as a musician; his single, “Champions,” was released in 2006. Though no longer a resident of Zionsville, Ron Artest is still spreading the gospel of Hoosier hoops throughout the United States.
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