Ron Artest says players could fear pressure playing for New York Knicks

Frank Isola

Ron Artest believes that the Knicks’ 2010 free agency plan has one fatal flaw: many of today’s top NBA stars are afraid to play in New York."I think people need to stop being scared and go to New York," Artest said Tuesday. "They’re scared. They’re so scared of the pressure and the media. I’m like, pardon my language, but I’m like, — the media and — everybody that’s putting pressure on you. That’s how I would take that.

"That’s why I went to St. John’s," Artest continued. "People were like, ‘Don’t go to St. John’s because you don’t need the distractions.’ I was like, ‘I’m going here because I want to go here.’ If I wanted to play for the Knicks, I would play because I wanted to play and I wouldn’t feel no pressure from anybody."

The Knicks will have enough salary-cap space to sign at least one free agent to a max contract. The hope is that LeBron James will leave Cleveland and sign with the Knicks.

Asked if LeBron could handle New York, Artest said: "I think LeBron can, I know he could."

Artest, famously passed over by the Knicks in the 1999 NBA draft in favor of Frenchman Frederic Weis, was hoping to get a call from Donnie Walsh last summer when he became a free agent. Artest wanted to play for his hometown Knicks. But the Lakers called him at 12:01 a.m. on July1 and "there’s really nothing else to think about after that," he said.

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