“That fire of getting out of the projects has always driven him.”
Fraschilla sold Artest on reviving St. John's, a program that had gone four straight years without an NCAA Tournament berth.
“The program needed a jump-start, and Ron was the perfect guy,” Fraschilla said. “His energy level and intensity was exactly what we needed. He helped rejuvenate St. John's basketball.”
Fraschilla said Artest “never really crossed the line with us … I used to beat him to the punch.”
Fraschilla said he could see outbursts coming. Would throw Artest out of practice. Benched him for a big game at Louisville for arriving a minute or two late.
“As much as I cared about him, thought a lot about him, I wanted him to make sure he knew who the boss was,” Fraschilla said. “I played the bad cop with him, just to let him know who was in charge.”
You could argue that there are few bad cops in the NBA. Maybe if Artest had landed in San Antonio and played for Gregg Popovich, things would be different. Instead, he has played for Tim Floyd, Isiah Thomas, Rick Carlisle, Rick Adelman, Reggie Theus, Phil Jackson and Mike Brown.
Some really good coaches on that list. Not a lot of bad cops.
Artest has acknowledged mental health problems. He's embraced mental health issues as a charitable cause.
“Mental issues I'd leave for someone else to determine,” Fraschilla said. “I can't diagnose things about him I'm not qualified to know.
“All I know, his intensity level on the court is through the roof. His intensity level has made him the player he's been the last 16 years I've known him. Also gets him in trouble. No doubt.
“He rubs off on everybody. If you're a teammate of Ron's, you felt like you were going into a street fight with Superman on your side.”
Trouble is, not everyone can be Chaos' teammate. And in a Thunder-Laker series, talking about the good side of Oklahoma's enemy of the state is whistling into the wind.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.