A Short Convo With… Ron Artest

The Los Angeles Lakers begin training camp on Wednesday but their new starting small forward, Ron Artest, has been working out all summer. In fact, Artest spent so much time in the gym, he wrote a song about it. On “Work Out,” Artest drops some amusing jockisms (“Treadmill running / Iron stay pumping / Kobe head fake but the kid ain’t jumping”) and ponders his future as a celebrity pitchman (Nike? No! Razor blades? Hell Yes!). Just make sure to stick around till the end for Artest’s spirited “Rocky” impersonation.–Thomas Golianopoulos

VIBE: Why make a song about working out?
Ron Artest
: I did it because a lot of people in the music industry badmouth basketball players for doing music. They never understood that music is something that you either want to do or you don’t. It don’t matter whether you’re an athlete or not. So I did a song called “Working Out” just to make all those people more mad.

Some of the hip-hop message boards are saying it’s one of your best songs.
It was definitely a fun song to make and one of my best ones. I was surprised by the reviews I was getting. I just did the song because I love to work out. My main thing is I play basketball and work out a lot so that is what my music is going to revolve [around] and that’s where I got the inspiration to do that song. It was a freestyle but it turned into a song. I might touch it up and make it a little better.

Have you worked out yet today?
I’m about to.

What’s today’s routine?
I’ll probably go to the Laker gym, run, shoot some hoops and then get on that dip and chi-up bar. That is what I do a lot.

What is your most hated exercise?
Abs are the toughest because you have to do a lot and then it burns and burns. But running is the exercise you have to do. If you want to stay in shape, you have to sprint. You know that it’s going to hurt, your lungs are going to start hurting and your legs are going to get tight but you have to continue to push it. That is something you don’t want to do every morning but as an athlete that is something you have to do.

Have you ever fell for the Kobe head fake?
I did a couple of times. When I made that song, I wasn’t a Laker yet.

Do you usually work out next to three hot girls in bikinis?
Aww man, did you see the video?

Yeah, of course I saw the video.
Preferably, I would like to work out with three hot girls. I think that’s a cool workout and motivational.

Tru_Warrior_Ron_Artest.jpgWhat do you have against tight pants?
I don’t have anything against tight pants for a lot of people. Every time I’m in Hollywood, people are telling me, “Wear this, wear that.” I’m like, “I’m not Hollywood, I’m Hollyhood.” I keep telling people I can’t change. I’m not Kanye West. I can’t dress like Kanye. I don’t want to dress like Kanye. Every time a stylist comes to dress me and putting me in these clothes that I’m not comfortable wearing. I keep telling them, “I want to be classy but I want to be hood. Give me something that’s classy and hood.”

Are you trying to endorse razor blades?
That’s funny. I said that because people want you to have a certain image. It goes back to the tight pants statement. People want you to have a certain image and it’s like, I don’t have that image so I won’t get the endorsements and all the stuff I want to get because people want me to be a certain way but I’m not. So I say, “O.k. I’ll just endorse the razor blades. I’ll endorse something that no one else endorses.”

And no Nike endorsement, right?
[Laughs] I kind of like that line. I have a couple of managers and now that I’m in LA, I’m turning my image around a little bit. Everybody said, “You need to get with Nike.” You know what, I wanted to get with them for a long time. I’m not a high flier like Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James, but I have a fan base and they can tap into that fan base. My fan base are the people that wear Air Force Ones, that dude on the corner. That’s my real fan base. They sell shoes like that from me to that street dude, it would be all good. But for some reason, these people don’t think–this company don’t think they can endorse a Ron Artest. OK, cool. I’m cool with being a loser and I’ll still work out.

Why scream “Adrian” at the end of the song?
Oh man, I don’t know man. I felt like I won. Right before that, I was talking about, “Catch me on the corner with some coke in my nose” or something. People thought I was talking about I want to put coke in my nose. No, I don’t want to do no coke. I said that line because sometimes people would rather see you fail than succeed. They don’t mind seeing you in jail. That’s why I said, “Even though I’m in jail, I’m still going to work out.” And then, after all the ups and downs in that song, I was successful, and the only way you can express success is you got to say, “Adrian.”

Two quick Lakers questions: How do you guys look on paper?
On paper, we are the best team in the history of basketball. On paper.

Would you be shocked if you didn’t win the championship this year?
It would be a shock but obviously you have to respect all the teams. But I think that if we don’t win, it’s going to be pretty surprising.

Lastly, any marital advice for your buddy Lamar Odom?
Yeah, keep that love bubbling. Him and Khloe are in love right now and I’m so happy for both of them. They got to keep that fire burning all the time.