1. Ron Artest
For many people, the first thought that comes to mind when Ron Artest (now Metta World Peace) is brought up is the Malice at the Palace. What’s interesting about the brawl is that Artest stated that he still wanted to fight Ben Wallace five years after the brawl was over, as he felt Wallace started it by shoving him.
Artest had an attitude like none other, and he never backed down from anyone. This was on display during the Rockets’ Western Conference semifinal matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, as he confronted Kobe Bryant after receiving what he felt was an intentional elbow from Bryant. Like Rodman, Artest was an elite defender, as he won the Defensive Player of the Year award and was named to four all-defensive teams.
Artest would’ve loved played in the 80s and 90s, where he could’ve gotten away with the blatant elbow he dished out to current Houston Rockets star James Harden, who was playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder at the time.
Artest was suspended for the egregious act, and it wasn’t his first time getting suspended.
Artest wasn’t afraid to let officials know when he wasn’t happy with their calls towards him, or their lack of calls he felt he should’ve been getting. Artest was frequently ejected from games and constantly drew technical fouls.
He also admitted to drinking during games, which is similar to the scene in The Last Dance where Dennis Rodman was drinking a kamikaze during a workout. Artest’s drinking was much more egregious, however, as he explained during an interview shortly after he signed with the Lakers.
“I used to drink Hennessy … at halftime,” Artest said. “I [kept it] in my locker. I’d just walk to the liquor store and get it.”
Although many people believe wisdom and maturity tend to set in with age and time, that wasn’t exactly the case with Artest. In 2018, Artest was ejected from a game in the BIG3 league, and he kicked a ball on his way off the court. What’s noteworthy about that story is the fact that the incident took place within two minutes of the game starting.
When you factor in Artest’s uncontrollable behavior and his stellar defense, it’s easy to see how he was the one Houston Rockets player that most resembled Dennis Rodman. Artest even dyed his hair gold during his Lakers days, which is yet another similarity he had with The Worm.