When people think about Ron Artest, one of the first thoughts that comes to mind is the Malice at the Palace. The Malice at the Palace occurred in November 2004 after a hard foul by Artest on former Piston, Ben Wallace, causing an altercation between the two. While the altercation calmed down and Artest was lying on the scorer’s table, a fan threw a cup of soda at Artest, which led to Artest charging into the stands. Artest started fighting fans after he was hit. The Malice was covered on National television that particular night. Artest ended up being suspended for the remainder of the season, the affair cost him $5 million and his reputation was ruined.
Ever since that incident, Artest has had the reputation of being “crazy” and “unpredictable.” However, the incident is addressed in a new documentary about his personal struggles with mental health, named “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.” In the film, he thinks back to those moments. Watching it for himself, he remembers the struggle he went through as he relives those moments.
“The people I was affecting, we never sat down together, so we never actually experienced those moments together. I never knew how they felt. They didn’t know how I was feeling.”
Artest bounced around the league until finally “fitting in” with the Los Angeles Lakers when he signed with them in the summer of 2009. The next year, Artest helped the Lakers win their 16th championship, defeating the Boston Celtics. In Game 7, Artest hit a huge three pointer to help the Lakers seal the game late in the fourth quarter. His successes on the court began to bring back his former reputation as a strong and trusted player.
Artest has grown tremendously since the incident and has been very open about his battle with bipolar disorder. In the documentary, Artest signals how his struggles with metal health began when he was young. Instead of running away from it, he finally sought help by the time he got to the Lakers. When the Lakers won the championship, Artest thanked his therapist in his speech, something otherwise unheard of.
“In 1999, you weren’t trying to go out and say, ‘Hey, I am seeing a therapist,’” he said to the New York Post. “I was such a big talent. Usually people who have antics like myself, they just get rid of them.”
The story of Ron Artest is just another example of why speaking out and communicating is so important. In recent years, more and more professional athletes have come out and discussed their mental health struggles. NBA players such as Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan have opened up about their battles with depression. They, among others, emphasize how important it is for players, and people in general, to speak out before it’s too late.
“Mental health isn’t just an athlete thing. What you do for a living doesn’t have to define who you are. This is an everyone thing. No matter what our circumstances, we’re all carrying around things that hurt — and they can hurt us if we keep them buried inside. Not talking about our inner lives robs us of really getting to know ourselves and robs us of the chance to reach out to others in need,” Kevin Love said to The Players Tribune. “So if you’re reading this, and you’re having a hard time, no matter how big or small it seems to you, I want to remind you that you’re not weird or different for sharing what you’re going through.”
While it certainly was not easy for them, players like Artest, Love and DeRozan have opened up the communication channels for generations to come. Hopefully, now that there is dialogue about athletes’ mental health, future generations of NBA players will not have to go through such agony.