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Monarchs Fans Ron Artest and Chris Webber Square Off On the Mic

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Sacramento Kings' Ron Artest and former Kings star Chris Webber doing some commentary during the LA Sparks road victory over the Sacramento Monarchs last night.

I had completely forgotten that Ron Artest was supposed to be doing some color commentary for the Sacramento Monarchs this year. But it seemed like Chris Webber just happened to stop by.

Apparently they switched off between doing television and radio so fans got a healthy dose of both.

So…who was better: Artest or Webber?

I liked Webber better, hands down. He was upbeat, cracking jokes, and brought some verve to a game in which the Monarchs just fell apart in the second half.

Webber also did a pretty good job of bringing the player's perspective to the broadcast, which can’t otherwise be gathered from just watching as a fan. And you have to appreciate that – little things about coaching players to do more than "play their height", working out with Ticha Penicheiro, and how his agent called him about working out with Candace Parker.
"Listen, I watched the first WNBA game that she had…my agent told me that she was good and he said, "You should work out with her". And I said, I’m not working out with her. But maybe I should have – maybe she would have kept me in the league a little bit longer. She can play."

Webber also had some interesting endorsements of the WNBA after a beautiful drive and finish by Penicheiro followed by a difficult left handed hook on the block from Candace Parker.
"This is basketball. You know what-- I don’t care-- You have to love sports and these ladies are bad, I’m telling you. The left hand spin jump hook which is hard – which I know professional guys who can’t do that."

Play-by-play announcer Jim Kozimor later asked Webber for his thoughts on much how NBA players appreciate the WNBA game.
"I’ll tell you the truth – last year I was with the Pistons. And Rasheed and I, we watched all these games and we would talk about how good these girls were. Because actually, I think I got better late in my career because of the lack of my athletic ability. And because some of the ladies maybe cant dunk and just rely on that, it is tougher to make a lay up in traffic than it is to dunk in traffic because you’re over everyone. So the skill factor we believe in this game is much tougher or just the same. So we really respect this game."

Webber also commented on how much the game is improving, after color commentator Krista Blunk asked about his thoughts on this year's rookie class.
"I think the game is changing. I think these young kids are taking the information and taking the plays that they’ve seen and gone home and just come up with some extraterrestrial type stuff so they are prepared to play. It’s a new game."

Artest was interesting in that I-have-to-keep-listening-because-he-could-go-off-at-any-moment kind of way. Maybe Artest hasn’t been in front of a mic as often (Webber appeared on TNT a few times during the NBA playoffs), but he just didn’t sound quite as comfortable or engaging as Webber.

In contrast to Webber’s vibrant and playful style, Artest was rather dry. He kept mentioning that Candace Parker is 6'5" and can play. He also made a number of uninspiring comments like, "Sometimes a shot is better than a turnover." Hmmm…ok.

Artest also needed more prompting from Kozimor and color commentator Krista Blunk, whereas Chris Webber was better at contributing without being prompted to do so.

Of course Artest is clearly excited about being there and he has to get better. Really, he has to.

Maybe their futures in commentating will be decided by their other commitments: while Webber has time to kill in retirement, Artest still has a day job.

Transition points:

- They mentioned during the broadcast that the Monarchs were 2-0 when Artest made an appearance at a game – he did commentary opening night and watched a win in New York. That streak is now over.

- Why doesn't ex-Indiana Pacer Reggie Miller do some color commentary for the Indiana Fever?

He obviously has an interest in broadcasting – he’s been working for TNT and had a talk show for a little while.

Ex-Chicago Bull Stacey King does the color commentary for the Chicago Sky.

You probably know that his sister and legendary women's basketball player, Cheryl, also does some sideline work for TNT.

So why not?

People say Cheryl was the better basketball player and as of right now, she's the better broadcaster as well.

Honestly, I am just a huge Reggie Miller fan. He was easily one of the best clutch shooters in NBA history. Plus he was a pioneer for skinny players worldwide, which I can appreciate.

So it’s time to reveal my real motivation: I just want to keep his mind off a comeback. It would just ruin his legacy even though he might be able to help a contender get a ring.

- Slam Online journalist Lang Whitaker commented on Candace Parker’s fiancée and Sacramento Kings forward Shelden Williams’ frequent appearances at Sparks games:
"Also, two celebrities there in the front row: Jack Black and Shelden Williams. I’m guessing Shelden Williams must be the Nicholson of the Sparks."
If Shelden could become a star basketball player somehow then that comparison could make sense