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Coast To Coast

January 07, 2007|Mark Heisler

How could they miss such a great friendship?

On behalf of the media, I'd like to apologize for saying the Kings shopped Ron Artest and Mike Bibby, who don't get along, because now they say they do.

"No one knows what they're talking about," Bibby said. "No one's here at practice. I have no problem with Ron.... I've got nothing against anybody. I'm the easiest-going guy in the world, I think."

Actually, the press is there; it's locked out until practice is over.

Wrote Artest for "People know I rep the ghetto but I'm not a bad person. Inside, I'm really a good person. People leak it out there that Sacramento wants to trade me, but that trade is not going to happen. In order for me to be traded, my team has to want to trade me and they don't want to."

Of course, if things don't change with the Kings under .500, Bibby's opt-out coming and a report the team didn't deny that Artest asked to be traded, look for more pesky rumors.

Beware all ye who enter here

More from Artest on

On disappointing sales of his CD on his Tru Warier label: "My distribution only shipped 13,000 copies.... It's like trying to find a Tic Tac in the ocean.

"People can say what they want about Eminem and 50 [Cent], but they're two of the best artists of their time. When you don't have that machine they have behind them, it makes things more difficult.... It's tougher on the independents. That's why I need to get with a major [record label]. I've already spent $3 million and it's like I threw that in the ocean."

On critics: "The only time I can get a little bit unpositive is when the haters out there want Ron Artest to be how they want him to be."

This season's most improved player

It could come down to the most-improved Bruin.

Representing the Class of 2002 is Matt Barnes of the Warriors, his fifth team, who started making three-pointers (43%), became a starter and averaged 23 points the last two weeks.

"It's truly amazing," Coach Don Nelson said. "... I would not have believed it had you told me at the beginning of the season."

Representing the Class of 2007 -- he left as a freshman and would be a senior now -- is Orlando's spectacular Trevor Ariza, who has averaged 15 points in his last 10 games.

"We knew we were getting a great athlete, but now you're just starting to see a little more of what we have," Orlando GM Otis Smith said. "You've only seen a glimpse of what he can do."

East is east

Chicago's Ben Wallace before his first game against his old team, the Pistons: "Let our fans boo them before I get the opportunity to let their fans boo me." ... Suns forward and Detroit native Jalen Rose: "His value is going to come at playoff time. He's experienced. The game slows down. As long as he doesn't wear his headband, he'll be fine." ... Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, who has as many questions about the Pacers as they have about him, to the Indianapolis Star: "If I can't take this team to another level, I truthfully believe we should go our separate ways at the end of the season."

West is west

Houston Coach Jeff Van Gundy on delicately balanced Tracy McGrady's comeback: "I want him to have a joy about his job and not really get wrapped up in, is he as good as the old Mac and where does he rank in Mac-ness." ... Chicago Coach Scott Skiles on Phoenix's Steve Nash: "I don't mean to shortchange anybody else or anything, but he's the best basketball player on the face of the Earth. I don't think it's even close."

Famous last words

Memphis interim Coach Tony Barone, ending Mike Fratello's ban on headbands, armbands and wristbands: "I don't care if they wear underwear on top of their heads."

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