Ron Artest Wins The… Good Citizenship Award?

Ron ArtestRon Artest is an easy target.

He’s had a checkered past (to put it nicely).  He does odd things (like that photo… or thanking his psychiatrist after winning it all).  And he’s probably one of the most likely players in the NBA to snap at a moment’s notice. 

Which makes this bit of news really surprising.  

Ron Artest just won the NBA’s citizenship award.  And it turns out that whole therapist thing was part of why.

He sat on the podium after winning an NBA title and thanked his therapist for helping him get to this point. He from there has taken a number of steps to try and remove some of the stigma from people — particularly youth — from getting mental help.

That included raffling off his prized championship ring to raise money for the cause, donating part of his salary and going before congress to talk about legislation that would make it easier for youth to get mental health services.

“Ron has such a passion for the issue, and has demonstrated such leadership he was a perfect choice for such a prestigious award,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. “His work embodies the kind of dedication to important causes that NBA players have become known for.”

You know, redemption has been a bit of a running theme so far this post-season.  Brandon Roy led a huge Portland comeback.  Jermaine O’Neal’s defense was a key reason the Celtics swept New York.  Why shouldn’t Ron Artest be rewarded for making a turnaround?  

And yeah, maybe this is another award handed out because the recipient surprised everyone.  C’est la vie.  

I really want to make fun of this.  But I guess I just can’t (beyond posting that photo, I mean).  Congrats, Ron.