Ron Artest ranks Kobe Bryant first and Kevin Durant second in the league; declines to say where LeBron James ranks


By Mark Medina
Los Angeles Times

One of the many reasons to love Ron Artest is that you know every interview will be quotable, funny and/or memorable. You just never know where it’s going to go sometimes.

Artest touched on many topics, such as the team’s current play, coming off a championship season, his charitable efforts, the Miami Heat and Kevin Durant.

In fact, Artest made a point, unprompted as well, to declare Durant the second-best player in the NBA (behind Kobe Bryant, of course). Moments later in the interview, I made sure to bring that topic up again and ask Artest the thought process behind his rankings.

“I think Kobe’s got five rings, six-game winners [last season], 23 straight points in the playoffs, mostly jump shots, couple attacks, big-shot maker,” Artest said. “So that said, Durant’s second-best player in the NBA.”

When a reporter asked, “Where does LeBron fall?” Artest ignored the question and said, “I luckily had the chance to guard the second-best player in the NBA.”

So why does Durant rank second in the NBA? ” Kobe has five rings,” Artest answered.

“I don’t mean compared to Kobe,” I clarified. “I mean compared to everyone else.” Artest’s response: “Kevin Durant is the second-best player in the NBA.”

“Where is LeBron James on your list?” another reporter asked. “You got to ask him,” said Artest.

Follow-up question: What about on your list? “I only count to two,” Artest replied. “I’ve been out of school for 10 years. I only count to two.”