Despite a long and successful NBA career, millions of dollars, and fame, Ron Artest has never forgotten where he comes from.
"That is incredibly disappointing," says Mary Thompson, who lives in the Queensbridge Houses public housing where Artest grew up in Queens. "A lot of people here have it tough as it is without everyone thinking we're nutjobs because of Ron Artest."
Artest proudly told TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager to "say Queensbridge" after he hit the winning shot at the buzzer in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. His display of pride had an immediate impact at the Queensbridge buildings.
"I guess a lot of people were watching the game, because right after he said it, you could hear a big groan all around you," said Queensbridge public activities coordinator Mychal Logan. "And then what sounded like the sound of people slapping their forehead in disappointment."
Thompson, a single mother of three, says she has had numerous job interviews end when potential employers realize she is from the Queensbridge Houses and associate that with Artest.
"Usually they then have security escort me out," she said. "And do you have any idea how hard it is to keep up the self-esteem of your kids when they think one of the only ways out of here is to be like Ron Artest? Thank God they also have a good example like Nas."
Logan says he appreciates Artest's pride and the charity he has done for the community, but says if the Lakers forward really wanted to help, "he'd make a point in his next post-game interview to say he's from the Bronx. Or, I don't know, Iowa. Just, please, show the people of Queensbridge mercy."