Metta World Chaos knew he did wrong. Knew he shouldn't have thrown the elbow that sent James Harden crumbling to the court and Chaos' reputation back to the gutter.
So says Fran Fraschilla.
Everybody has a mother, and every athlete has a coach. Chaos' coach is our old pal who now is ESPN's voice of Big 12 basketball but once revived a storied program by recruiting Ron Artest to St. John's University.
You're not going to like this, not going to like it one bit, but Fraschilla speaks highly of his former ballplayer.
“His greatest strength is his biggest weakness,” Fraschilla said of Oklahoma's Public Enemy No. 1. “He is an intense competitor. Almost all of Ron's issues are on the court. Very rarely is there an off-the-court incident with Ron.
“He's not (Charles) Barkley, throwing someone through a plate-glass window. Most of his issues have been borne out of this intense competitiveness. Which has both fueled his fire and gotten him in trouble.”
Chaos soon could face the masses who despise him so. If his Los Angeles Lakers defeat Denver in a Western Conference playoff series — Game 6 was late Thursday night — the Lakers will open the West semifinals either Saturday night or Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The reception for Chaos in Oklahoma City, no matter when it is, won't be warm. But like those mothers of terrorists who recall pleasant memories from their sons' childhoods, Fraschilla speaks well of his one-time protégé.
“He has an incredible heart,” Fraschilla said. “Stuff behind the scenes, off the court, taking care of people who are less fortunate, lot of untold stories about Ron beneath the surface.
“Most people who know him think of him basically as a good guy.”
That's a hard sell, watching Chaos brawl in Auburn Hills eight years ago, or clothesline J.J. Barea last spring, or deck Harden, or even go on Conan O'Brien's show this week and fail to fall on the sword.
“He knows right from wrong,” Fraschilla said. “He didn't show it, but he knew in his heart he was wrong. But he's a warrior and a tough-guy on the court, so he couldn't let anyone see it.”
Fraschilla has watched Chaos grow up to whatever extent he has.
Artest was raised in Queensbridge, the massive New York housing project just across the East River in Queens, while Fraschilla coached at Manhattan College and St. John's.
Artest came from a tough family; his dad was a former boxer. “You're in survival mode, growing up in Queensbridge,” Fraschilla said.
Artest went to La Salle Academy, where in spring 1997 he was one of the two best prep players in New York, along with Lamar Odom.
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