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Friday December 5, 2008 1:28 PM

Artest's Approach To The Game


Rockets vs. Warriors, 7:30 PM, FSNHOU



Jason Friedman
Rockets.com Staff Writer

Houston - Read Ron Artest’s postgame comments and a definite pattern emerges.

After wins, the rugged forward emphasizes everything he and his team need to do to realize their seemingly enormous potential. Following losses, Artest shifts gears and becomes the world’s biggest optimist, promising better days as the club learns to absorb the lessons offered in defeat.

For some (read: those of us in the media), such comments can often come across as boring and bland. Others might find Artest's analysis strangely counter-intuitive: How can someone be so seemingly upbeat after losses and critical after wins?

But the reality is that this approach is more than a decade in the making for a man who owes so much of his effectiveness to his nearly unmatched passion and fire. When one has spent a lifetime feeding off the intensity of one's feelings, finding that on/off switch figures to be a significant challenge. Artest was no exception.

"Before, I would get really upset after losses and that would lead me to fines and suspensions," says the tenth-year player from Queensbridge, New York. "I had to find a way to accept losing and to get better from it. It was hard. It took a long time.

"When you make it to the NBA there are a lot of different pressures that come with it. Some people mature faster than others – like LeBron James matured faster than I matured and that’s just how it works sometimes. But last year I got a little bit better with it and this year I’m getting a little bit better, too."

The end result is what you see now: A man armed with an approach which better enables him to harness his one-of-a-kind passion on and off the court. The strategy Artest employs is nothing novel. In fact, it's similar to a technique taught by cognitive behavioral experts: Stay balanced, and recognize that one's thoughts ultimately impact one's actions. Like just about everything in life, it's easy to describe and difficult to master. But all the years Artest has put in to altering his mental approach are paying off now with the Rockets, and he's determined to make sure the end result benefits not just himself, but the entire team as well.

"I just think after you win a game, if you didn’t play your best then you have to understand that you’ll lose the next game [if you play the same way]. You can’t be satisfied, because once you get satisfied there’s a good chance you’ll lose that next game.

"And after losses, for some reason I always feel we should have won and I always think we’ll win the next game. So I guess it gives me something to keep me on my toes; not getting too comfortable and not feeling too down after you lose."

Tip-off for tonight's game takes place at 7:30. For ticket information, visit ticket central or call 713.627.DUNK.

Got a question for Rockets.com? Send it to Jason Friedman.