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Artest Already Breaking, Mending Fences

On Thursday morning, it looked like any positive vibes surrounding the Rockets' pending acquisition of Ron Artest had worn off.  By evening, Artest himself was already doing whatever he could to bring them back.

As reported by ESPN's Marc Stein: 

Some two weeks before he can actually join his new team, Ron Artest was already trying to neutralize his first Houston Rockets controversy Thursday, insisting that there will be no tension with Yao Ming once a trade sending Artest from Sacramento to Houston goes through as expected Aug. 14.

"I don't think Yao meant to say that," Artest offered Thursday, referring to Yao's comments to the Chronicle which referenced Artest's involvement in the infamous Indiana-Detroit brawl that spilled into the stands in 2004.

"I spoke to Yao and I told him I can't wait to play with him," Artest continued. "I spoke to Tracy [McGrady] and I told him I can't wait to play with him. I was a little bit down [upon hearing Yao's initial statements], because I'm so far beyond [the brawl]. But everything is going to be good."

"I was a little bit disturbed, mainly because [of] the brawl comments. That's four years removed from now, maybe four or five years removed … I wanted [Yao] to know I was a little bit frustrated, but I understand where he's coming from. But I cannot wait to be a part of that team. I don't care if I have to come off the bench. I could be the sixth man, a seventh man, all I want to do is just really contribute and win a lot of games."

From "I'm still ghetto" to "all I want to do is just really contribute," Artest sounds like he got himself together over the course of the day.  For one day, at least.

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Artest's comments from earlier Thursday demonstrated just how much of a roller coaster ride comes with having him in town.  He made reference to the fact that Yao had a lack of understanding that he is "still ghetto," the meaning of which remains unclear.  But the verbal sparring didn't seem like a great start for the new teammates.

While it could just be lip service, Artest's efforts to nip this in the bud demonstrate that at least for the day, his heart was in the right place.  The Rockets have a great opportunity in front of them, but as they may just be beginning to learn, it will be quite easy to blow said opportunity courtesy of combustibility.