Speed Read: Artest Shuns Cavs, Chooses Lakers

The Lakers are already the defending champs, and while the Cavs are adding an over-the-hill Shaq and Boston is making overtures to the shell that once housed Rasheed Wallace, the champs may have made the biggest splash of all — adding the insane, yet extremely talented, Ron Artest.

Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant

(Odds Ron’s going to forget he’s Kobe’s teammate and gets a flagrant 2 on him? About 2-to-1.)

The news came somewhat out of nowhere last night, as ESPN was still reporting during the early evening hours on the east coast that LeBron James had been reaching out to Artest in an effort to get him to Cleveland. ESPN expert Chris Broussard went on Sportscenter downplaying that situation, and within a couple of hours Artest was in ESPN’s L.A. studio announcing his intention to sign with the Lakers for the mid-level exception.

This is all fine and dandy, but does nobody remember about this?

Although, to be honest, Artest is just about the only guy in the league who could do this and then ask Kobe to go out to Applebee’s afterward. This guy doesn’t exactly go about things the normal way. I mean, we are talking about a guy who once tried to work at Circuit City in the offseason to get the employee discount.

Here’s what Ron-Ron had to say about coming to L.A., according to CBS SPORTSLINE:

“L.A. is what it is,” Artest said. “I’ve been here for the whole summer, and it’s pretty good. It’s good for me. I know Lamar Odom, so that’s pretty cool.”

Awesome, they can totally ride bikes together and eat toooooons of gummy bears.

All the clamoring for the Lakers to pony up the cash to keep Trevor Ariza sure went away quickly, considering that Artest is accepting the mid-level (which will be under $6 million next year) while Ariza was looking for something in the $7 million+ range. And now word is out that Ariza will be taking Artest’s place in Houston, and will in fact accept the mid-level (though over the full term of five years).

Trevor Ariza

(”Here’s how many titles I’m going to win in Houston.”)

I’ve seen baseball games delayed for a wide variety of reasons (I was at Shea Stadium once when the sprinklers came on unannounced, or there’s that one time a plane crashed beyond the left-field wall), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game get derailed by bees. In the ninth inning of yesterday’s Padres-Astros game at Petco Park, a swarm overtook a jacket that was draped over a chair down the left-field line (the coat belonged to a ball girl).

bumblebee man

Apparently, the swarm’s queen bee took up residence inside the coat, which led to thousands of workers, or drones, or whatever they are, descending on the area around the jacket. It was nearly an hour before a beekeeper arrived on the scene to take care of the bees. He dove right into the jacket, sprayed the bees (which were in a mass about the size of a soccer ball) with some sort of agent, then shoveled the presumably dead bees into the jacket (PETA is already preparing to complain about this I’m sure), which was put into a plastic bag and carried away. Eyewitnesses report that the beekeeper received the biggest ovation of the day, as the Astros cruised to a 7-2 win.

bee warning

Bee swarm

Now, while you watch two guys named Andy battle it out on Center Court, here’s some links to get you through your Friday:

• The Phoenix Lifelock Mercury’s Diana Taurasi got a DUI early on Thursday morning. It’s about time WNBA players start acting like real athletes.

• A suspected rapist who was attempting to assault a woman yesterday in San Diego was fought off successfully by the woman, then he tried to run away from her. Which might have worked…if the woman wasn’t a marathon runner. Let’s just say the future’s not looking too bright for this guy right now.

I’m a big 1964 Topps baseball card guy, partly because of the multiple laughable errors made throughout the set by Topps’ editorial staff, which seemed to exist of a five-year-old with a learning disability. And Keith Olbermann delivers us the most ridiculous error in the set (if you’re not getting it, just read Dave Bennett’s bio again):

19-year-old Dave Bennett is 18 years old

• The World Series of Poker’s main event starts today at the Rio in Las Vegas, and among the thousands registered to play over the next few days is none other than Barack Obama. No, the Prez didn’t buy in himself — a poker pro named Richard Sklar (who also happens to be an ex-con) put up the $10,000 to enter him into the event. Sklar then made a number of bets with other pros that Obama would show up to play at least one hand. Chris “Jesus” Ferguson and Phil Gordon are among the pros who said they’d pony up big cash for charity if he does show. GAMBLING ONLINE has details, as does this thread at poker site TWO PLUS TWO.

•  The CFL has indeed fined Toronto WR Arland Bruce, who posed as Michael Jackson’s corpse in the end zone after scoring a touchdown on Wednesday.

•  In 1990, Family Feud had an entire episode pitting five Major League players against five umpires. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Rick Sutcliffe rocking the Cubs jersey tucked into jeans and the late, great Eric Gregg saying “what’s your name, baby?” Here’s Part 1 of 3 (thank you UNI WATCH for the tip):

• GAME ON says the rumors that the Texas Rangers had to borrow $15 million to meet payroll are not true, though there is a framework in place if they do need to borrow money. That’s comforting.

• New Grouch Chairman of the BCS Overlord Oversight Committee Harvey Perlman on the idea of a college football playoff (courtesy of the WIZ OF ODDS):

“If you look at college football now, it’s the greatest sporting event spread over September, October, November, December and a little bit of January that the country has. A playoff would seriously diminish the regular season, as it has in college basketball… This isn’t basketball. This isn’t March Madness. Football’s a different game, different environment. We have different traditions. It’s hard to see why a playoff is a good idea.”

I’m with you, Harvey. I don’t even know why any of these silly sports with their useless playoffs even have a regular season. An arbitrary, invitation-based system guided by a perplexing computer formula is obviously the way to go for any sport that wants to be taken seriously.

• Mariners prospect James McOwen (who honestly wasn’t much of a prospect prior to this year) extended his California League-record hitting streak to 39 games with a 3-for-4 night in the High Desert Mavericks’ 6-2 win over the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at the most awesomely-named park in all of baseball — The Epicenter.

Danica Patrick might want to stick to the GoDaddy stuff, and steer clear of the Elton John glasses:

Danica Patrick glasses

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