Ron Artest

David Stern represented the contradictions of a liberal in power. A look at his legacy.

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The Hurt Locker

If you don't follow the NBA, the name Stephen Jackson might not immediately ring a bell. Allow me to reacquaint you. Jackson was the kindly Samaritan who followed his then-Indiana Pacers teammate Ron Artest into the stands to slap some fans around during a 2004 brawl with the Detroit Pistons. For this Jackson received a 30-game suspension. It turned out to be such a life-altering experience that Jackson would never again use his hands as a weapon in public. Not even close. The next time Jackson chose to disturb the peace, he would brandish a bona fide weapon--a 9 mm pistol.

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David Roth is a writer living in New York. They cruise through cities, klezmer pumping from the speakers of RVs emblazoned with the image of the late Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. They approach even vaguely Semitic-seeming pedestrians with the question, "Are you Jewish?" and are known for their expansionist approach to growing their congregations.

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Empty Garden

On the basketball courts of New York City, there may be no truer measure of a player's stature than his nickname. If a player is considered good, then his moniker will be something straightforward: "Pee Wee" if he is short; "Lefty" if he shoots with that hand. But if a player is viewed as great, then his talent can actually inspire poetry. He will be called "Half-Man Half-Amazing" for his superhuman dunks or "Skip to My Lou" for the way he hopscotches down the court as he dribbles past hapless opponents.

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All of the us stalwart Houston Rockets fans were heartened by the exciting news that NBA bad boy Ron Artest, star of the sport's worst ever brawl in Detroit a few years back, has joined the team. The reason to cheer is that Artest is a phenomenally talented basketball player and defensive specialist who will allow Houston to compete for an NBA championship next year. Usually when a new player joins a team, his new teammates embrace him with smiles and open arms, even if he is completely insane--as Artest happens to be.

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