Happening Elsewhere: Ron Artest Raffling off Championship Ring, Repping for Pluto

Happening Elsewhere: Ron Artest Raffling off Championship Ring, Repping for Pluto

You just knew it was about that time. Weeks, months of the NBA off-season had gone by without a Crazy Ron Artest happening, and that trend certainly couldn't last much longer. So here we are: Three or so months after he was made quite possibly the happiest man on the planet by winning his first-ever NBA championship ring with the Los Angeles Lakers, the mercurial forward has decided that, eh, he could live without it after all. So Ron-Ron has decided to auction off the commemorative ring in raffle format (Artest, always a true man of the people) for charity.

The cause, appropriately enough? Mental health, to which Artest memorably attributed his success after winning Game 7 in Los Angeles. "When I grew up, mental health was something that wasn't talked about," says Artest. "Even before the championship I was telling people I was seeing a psychiatrist. When we won the championship, it was on a much more larger scale -- 'Wow, he really said that.'"

Of course, there's a bit of self-motivation to all this as well. Artest, so relentless in his pursuit of that first ring, wants to feel the same hunger going for the back-to-back--so why not make it the first time all over again? "I've got a lot to play for again this year," says Artest. "I'm going after my first ring." (Sort of.) A little cocky on Ron's part, and a certain supergroup in the southeast is probably scoffing at the idea of him banking on another title in the next half-decade or so, but you gotta respect the dedication just the same.

And just in case you didn't feel this sufficed for your Crazy Ron Artest fix, the rapper/fashion icon also took the opportunity to give a shoutout to his favorite ex-planet. "Pluto's not even a planet no more, which I'm very disturbed about," bemoans Artest. "I grew up when Pluto was a planet. Now, I'm 25, I turn around and Pluto's no longer a planet. I'm going to elbow that guy in the nose [...] We've got to see if we can get Pluto back." I feel you on that one, Ron--I couldn't believe that we were just giving Pluto the shaft either. Plus, it just doesn't make sense without knowing what My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine of.

Link: Ron Artest to Auction Championship Ring

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Sir Charles and Shaq made things personal last night and it was fantastic

Shaq always has the trump card -- and by that we mean championship rings -- to throw in Charles Barkley's face. But with that said, Sir Charles is probably a much better trash talker and therefore has a superior mouth to defend himself with and throw barbs back in Shaq's direction.

The mouthy duo got into it a bit last night and it teetered between fun and lighthearted and a little personal.

Shaq attacks Chuck for only playing in one NBA Finals and therefore not really knowing what he was talking about. Charles claps back at Shaq for having ridden Kobe and Dwyane Wade's coattails. 

During an NBA playoffs that has been mostly boring, at least these two can still entertain us.

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox should be at Eagles OTAs, but absence likely meaningless

Fletcher Cox wasn’t at practice with the rest of his Eagles teammates on Tuesday -- well, 86 of them -- and that’s okay. It’s May, and participation in offseason training activities is strictly voluntary. Furthermore, if Cox wants to take a vacation, he is entitled to do so under the collective bargaining agreement.

Cox really should be at OTAs. The Eagles gave him a contract potentially worth over $100 million just last year, and with that comes an obligation. Cox arguably did not live up to that contract last season, too, so he could use the practice. And if he needed a vacation, why didn’t he take one during the three months he was off from work?

As far as I’m concerned, both takes are true. Cox is free to do as he wishes, and people with careers in sports should understand better than anybody the strain it places on families, so I can’t blame most of these guys for taking a little extra time. Then again, this drama with Cox seems like it was completely avoidable, and looks especially bad in light of his contract and disappointing season, so I can’t blame people for being angry, either.

Yet, Cox’s absence almost certainly will have no bearing on the outcome of any games this season. It’s not a sign of disrespect for Eagles coach Doug Pederson or that he’s losing the locker room. It’s not going to send a message to teammates that participation is not expected or important.

Cox missing OTAs on Tuesday was of no consequence to the Eagles at all. By training camp, it will be a forgotten footnote in the story of the 2017 season, only to be mentioned in future Mays whenever somebody else exercises the option to skip a voluntary practice.

Even then, there is clearly a double standard, because the reaction isn’t the same for everybody. When Brandon Graham missed last week while he was believed to be “holding out” for a new contract -- can’t hold out when it’s voluntary -- there were equal parts rage and support for the cause. Jason Peters and Donnie Jones are out this week, too, and while some displeasure has been voiced, those absences were largely met with apathy.

Marcus Smith was missing on Tuesday as well, and it’s not immediately clear why. Pederson made no mention of the former first-round draft pick, and practice was almost over before reporters bothered to notice. In theory, this is a huge mistake, because Smith is fighting for a roster spot. We also don’t know where he is -- perhaps there’s a reasonable explanation -- so it’s unreasonable to jump to conclusions or become outraged.

This is the part where once again we remind everybody that it’s May and these practices are non-contact. And while Cox going away for a week will still be indefensible to some, it never hurts to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Maybe, for whatever reason, he was literally unable to make the trip at a time that would not interfere with Eagles business. Maybe he was simply getting grief at home because he's away so much.

That undoubtedly will be impossible for some people to accept. And, hey, maybe Cox just doesn’t care. Regardless, the practices are voluntary, Cox is expected back next week, and absolutely nobody is going to be talking about this eight months from now, eight weeks from now, or even eight days from now.