One of Ron Artest's potential new teammates isn't getting off on the right foot with the forward, the Houston Chronicle and Sacramento Bee reported Thursday.
Houston Rockets center Yao Ming worried about team chemistry when he first heard of the reported trade for Artest, the newspaper reported, and Artest isn't happy about it.
"Hopefully, he's not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands," Yao said, the Chronicle reported.
Artest said Yao had bought into "all the propaganda" about him, the Bee reported.
"I understand what Yao said, but I'm still ghetto," Artest said, the Bee reported. "That's not going to change. I'm never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don't think he's ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture. Once Yao Ming gets to know me, he'll understand what I'm about.
"If you go back to the brawl (against fans during a 2005 game against the Pistons), that's a culture issue right there," Artest said, the newspaper reported. "Somebody was disrespecting me, so he's got to understand where I'm coming from. People that know me know that Ron Artest never changed."
The Rockets are close to an agreement to acquire Artest from the Sacramento Kings for guard Bobby Jackson, who played for the Kings from 2000-05, and another player — probably rookie forward Donte Greene, according to two NBA people who confirmed the deal, but spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.
Artest’s long-anticipated move out of Sacramento probably can’t be announced yet because Greene, acquired by the Rockets on draft night last month, signed a contract with Houston on July 14. A player can’t be traded within 30 days of signing a contract, according to league rules.
Artest is looking for a long-term deal from the Rockets, the Bee reported.
"We've still got to make sure there's still a commitment (from the Rockets)," Artest said, the Bee reported. "That's the main thing, is to make sure there's still a commitment. When I speak to the powers-that-be of the Houston Rockets' organization, we're going to find out how much they really want me there. We'll find out. I'm still waiting to find out if this is just a trade or if this is like a long-term commitment-type thing. I haven't spoken to anybody yet. I'm still waiting."
Artest did sound a conciliatory note about working with Yao and fellow Rockets star Tracy McGrady, the Bee reported.
"I guess once Yao Ming approves, I'll be a Houston Rocket," Artest said, the Bee reported. "(Yao) probably should've called me first. But at the same time, it's Yao Ming's team."
"Whatever Yao Ming wants me to do, I'll be there. Whatever Tracy McGrady tells me to do, that's how it's going to go down."
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
The 28-year-old Artest is as well known for his volatile personality as his basketball skills. While playing for the Indiana Pacers, he was the central figure in the 2004-05 brawl with fans at The Palace of Auburn Hills during a road game against the Detroit Pistons.
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