Ron Artest to Make an Aliyah?

By David Caspi

BASKETBALL PLAYER RON ARTEST, one of the NBA’s premiere defensive players, is reportedly looking into playing in the Israeli National Basketball league. Artest (31) has been a part of the Los Angeles Lakers squad for the past two years, after signing a 5 year contract in July 2009. The recent NBA lockout, which could very well result in a cancelation of the upcoming 2011-2012 season, has made the baller’s representatives let it be known that they are currently in the market for a European team for him to play in if a strike was to occur.

Less than two weeks since the NBA lockout went into place, amidst refusal from players to agree to a 25% pay cut upon team owners’ request, the Los Angeles Lakers forward has already been linked in various international reports to two different European destinations – in Finland and England – have been debunked by Artest’s agent, David Bauman.

Now, however, Bauman has stated that if Artest was indeed to temporarily join a high profile European team “It would be either in Israel, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Italy or France”. Israeli basketball got its notoriety greatly due to Macabbi Tel Aviv Basketball Club, the fourth-most successful club in European history, and one of the most successful teams of the past decade in European basketball, having won three titles and reached the finals five times in that period. If Artest was to join the Israeli League it is quite possible that Macabbi would be the only club who would be able to afford him.

Artest, who has won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2004, was a major participant in the Pacers–Pistons infamous brawl. He has lost approximately $7 million in salary due to the suspension for his involvement in the brawl. Artest is also known for his sometimes eccentric, outspoken behavior, on one occasion dyed his hair yellow and then added in purple the word DEFENSE in Hebrew (HAGANAH) as well as in Japanese and Hindi, meaning he’s no stranger to the language of the holy land.

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