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Ron Artest press conference video, Part II

Part I aqui, for those late to the party.  And if you'd like to first hear BK and I discuss our impressions of Lakers_Artest_med Artest via the 710 ESPN Lakers podkast, then watch Ron and compare notes, feel free.  Or you view the talkies below, then give the podkast a whirl.  But either way, listen to the poddy, or else you'll be dealing with a nagging void in your life that's impossible to quell.

Artest has barely been an unofficial Laker, much less one with an inked contract, but that hasn't prevented him from experiencing the crush that is the Laker Nation's enthusiasm.  Artest praised the fans of every city he's represented, but immediately noticed what sets apart a purple and gold's loyalist.  "The fans are so confident. That's what I've learned. Every fan is telling me I'm going to win, saying, 'you ready for your ring?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm ready.' "

The only thing better for Artest than proving O'Brien predictions correct would be doing so while playing alongside longtime buddy Lamar Odom. "That's a storybook ending. I don't want to think about it too much- I'd rather just do the work and let the work speak for itself...but it would be a storybook ending."  While mentioning the pair's New York roots, Artest took us on a trip down a Big Apple NBA Memory Lane, mentioning folks like Elton Brand, Rafer Alston and... Smush Parker.  (Hey, the guy did make it all the way to the L, like it or not).

Hearing talk about money being secondary priority, increased focus and moving past the Palace Brawl, it felt to me like age has drastically affected Artest's perspective on his career.  Pretty much.  "When I came into the NBA, I was wild," admitted RA. "It took me a long time to realize how I want my life to be. How I want my career to be."  Artest views his time with the Pacers as a step backward, a stumble he's since been determined to make up for.  "I want to leave on top of my game. That's real important to me."

"That's a no-brainer," smiled Artest as confirmation that he's cool deferring to Kobe Bryant. "And I didn't even finish school."  Heck, he spent last season sometimes giving up post touches to Luis Scola and Carl Landry.  Nice players both, but certainly not on Artest's level.  "I really don't even care if I score. I just want to win."  BK replied that such sentiments could have been ripped from the Lamar Odom Handbook, which prompted a grin from #37.  "(Lamar) told me to say that.  He said you'll love me if I say that. Really, I want to average 50."

BK then noted how, as the new piece of a championship squad, Artest could very end emerge the fall guy should the Lakers fail to repeat.  Does Artest feel that pressure?  Yep, and he's damn glad to.  "I love that. That's great pressure to have. I want people to say that. I want people to come down on me hard and expect all that." Besides, he would just be emulating the same Laker that he's willing to offer deference.

The following clip, for me, comprises the presser's most interesting section.  Artest's responses are probably more candid than I've ever heard an athlete reflect on his shortcomings, especially while being introduced to his new audience. 

I asked Artest if the fun side of his personality recently emerging and increased on-court focus went hand in hand.  Definitely, because both helped develop the ability to properly deal with losses, and that skill's absence caused serious issues for Artest.  "Losing got me in trouble most of the time in my career," admitted Artest, sharing tales of cameras broken and Gatorade bottles flung in reaction to defeat. Then he realized that fun was a necessity, even while competing at the highest level. 

"I had to find a way to able to lose a game and bounce back. That's why in the playoffs, we could lose by 30 and I'm totally happy,because I knew we'd win the next game. Before, everybody's jersey would be ripped up."

Obviously, such tantrums aren't a productive way to handle coming up short, and Artest eventually realized his negative reactions furthered the issue by preventing his squad from bouncing back.  "I was a bad teammate in Indiana," admitted RA.  "I was never a good teammate. Over the last couple of years, I learned how to become a good teammate. That was more important than my game, becoming a good teammate."

Again, this is brutally frank, often a rare commodity with professional athletes conditioned (and often encouraged) to deflect and spin.  In particular, the "bad teammate" sentiment reminded me of Kobe Bryant a few seasons ago.  I don't specifically mean the "bad teammate" label, but rather a realization that being a good teammate was ultimately as- or more important- ability.  And in particular, what "being a good teammate" means, which varies from elite player to elite player.

Even if you don't buy into the widespread notion that Kobe had to learn to "trust his teammates more" (or that some were even worthy of said "trust), by his own admission, the ability to communicate what's needed from them and the game plan was an area where Bryant needed to (and has) improved.  That recognition was kind of the last piece missing in Kobe's evolution as a player.  In a VERY different way, with a different set of circumstances and degree of professionalism, Artest realized the same basic principle.  Hopefully, he can continue to grow along these lines while in L.A.

During the Rockets-Blazers series, Artest's pursuit of a loose ball led to him happily chilling in the Houston stands.  There's an irony here that doesn't need much explaining.  Artest joked about this right after the game, but that ability to poke fun at his past has taken a while.  "It took a long time just to laugh about it, because it's something that hurt me and something that hurt my family. I never thought I'd be able to get over it."  But time, as they say, is the ultimate wound salve, upon realizing how much his circumstances had changed (and the role he played in changing them), Artest opted to savor the moment. 

"I actually had a chance to leave and walk right out, but I just sat down and just soaked it in... it felt so good to actually be in the stands and have fun. It felt so good."

As Mitch Kupchak acknowledged, the Lakers are now dealing with "a degree of the unknown." There's no way of knowing for sure how well Artest will fit in next season or if the team will improve with his presence.  And that's fitting, since he arrived because of surprising circumstances: Yao Ming's career suddenly somewhere between "on hold" and "in jeopardy," which goosed Artest's availability, and rapid impasse in negotiations between the Lakers and Trevor Ariza.  If the story's opening chapters provided this many twists, it's only logical that the ending won't be easy to predict.

Kupchak did express complete confidence, however, while evaluating his new acquisition's talent level. "Today sitting here, Ron, where he is in his career, and (compared to) Trevor (Ariza), Ron is a better player."

Also, some words from Kupchak about the Lakers' steadily rising payroll in a bad economy and whether that might prompt cost cutting (the casualty in particular being Odom).  While acknowledging that the bottom line has resulted in "hard decisions" (declining to match offers from the Golden State Warriors for Derek Fisher and Ronny Turiaf), Mitch also shared Dr. Buss' reticence to part with an essential player purely because of dollars and cents.

"With the (Buss) family, and this came up during the meeting on July 1st, you end up talking financial terms for an hour or two, and at the end of the conversation, (Dr. Buss) kind of looks at you and says, 'Mitch, but we're so damn competitive.'  So it's almost like the things you talked about for the last hour almost begin to go out the door because he wants to win.  I think the balance is that he's knowledgeable enough to make a good decision that involves basketball and business."

Finally, I wanted to share a quick exchange with Kupchak about the negotiations between the Lakers and Team Ariza:

Andrew Kamenetzky: Were you surprised to see the negotiations reach an impasse so quickly?

Mitch Kupchak: (small pause) I'm never "surprised," so I can't say I was surprised. I thought maybe that as we continued to talk, that maybe there would be some meeting of the middle ground within 24 hours. But it moves so quick, you know? And you have to go on feel. I just didn't feel that we were gonna be able to make a deal. If we did, it would have precluded us from bringing back the other players we wanted to bring back. You have to factor in that Ron all of a sudden became available and maybe under normal circumstances, you'd wait a day or two or three to try to work it out. But you can't do that.

AK: You don't want to potentially miss out on both guys.

MK: You have to kind of follow your gut feeling on the thing. And it moves quick. Once you start down that road, it's hard to do a 180. So we just gathered as much information as possible and about 24 hours later, we made the decision to move quickly.

AK: From the outside looking in, with the interest expressed both on your guys' end and on Trevor's end, to end up in that position so quickly was honestly surprising to see.

MK: It's surprising and disappointing.

Considering the setting (a presser to announce both a major acquisition and Ariza's replacement), hearing Mitch use the word "disappointing" struck me as fairly revealing.  Not that he isn't genuinely happy with Artest on board, but that doesn't change your general feelings.  I don't want to harp on the matter too much (as I've already made perfectly clear my thoughts on how events likely transpired), but the exchange felt too interesting to omit.


Photo of Ron Artest leaning.  Credit: AP Photo/Philip Scott Andrews

Comments () | Archives (113)

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>>Maybe Lamar needs the cash. Maybe he's planning a >>hostile takeover of M&M Mars



Hatin' on Blitz? I try to keep out of these things, as I get into them occasionally but Blitz? Hard words, herbert.

Dear 101-82 (yeah, that's your name from now on):

Congratualtions, the Celtics will not be irrelevant next year. However, what can you do with three power forward? Perkins is the only center who can play against Howard and Shaq. If Ray Allen continues to deteriorate and Rondo doesn't improve his shooting, the C's have the same problem as this year - no offense in the back court (sorry House only has one great shooting game per series, so that won't get it done).

They will have to grind on defense all year, and hope they can stay fresh enough in the front court so they can get through the Orlando-Cleveland gauntlet to meet a tougher and improved defending Champs. Good luck. It's hard to say which would be sweeter - beating Shaq and the Lebrons or crushing the C's.

131 and reds idiot...still trying to fish with those broken fishing rods boys?......You guys should be on E-bay looking for cheap brains....

>>>actually i agree kobe and company made ariza appear better
>>>than he really is but cant you make the same argument about

When Luke had his best season with the Lakers, HE WAS the third
best player on the team. Kobe, Lamar, Luke. And even Lamar doesn't
draw a lot of double teams. Certainly not Smush or Kwame or Brian Cook.

When Trevor played his big minutes, in addition to Kobe & Lamar,
there were Pau and Bynum, both of whom get additional attention,
not to mention Derek Fisher, an acknowledged 3 point shooter who
get's a lot more attention and respect from defenses than Smush did.

To be fair, the dearth of talent on the Lakers in Luke's starting season
meant that Luke got the ball more often than Trevor did in last year's
offense when he was starting.

>>>luke was the laker starter for about 2-3 years and those were
>>>just about the most agonizing years in laker history.

Again, I don't know where you're getting your information from, but
it ain't from reality.

Prior to 2006-07, Luke started a total of 13 games over his first 3 seasons.

In 2006-07, he was the starter in all 60 games he played in. Kobe,
Smush, Kwame, and Lamar were the other starters at the start of
the season. But even with that big of a handicap at PG & C, the Lakers
made it to mid-January with a record of 26-17 (on pace for a 52 win season).
Then Luke had a severe ankle sprain and missed a bunch of games,
which put Radmanovic into the starting lineup. Then Rad had the
snowboarding injury, so they started Brian Cook. Then Lamar tore
his Labrum. By the time Luke got back, the Lakers were back to a
more modest 33-31.

They finished out the season 42-40, but for the 60 games Luke
started they went 36-24 (a 49 win pace).

While the combination of Kwame, Smush, Cook, and injuries to
several players made it somewhat agonizing, Luke was a bright
spot on that team.

In the last two seasons, Luke started 31 and 34 games. In those
seasons, the Lakers made the finals once and won a championship
the other year. I'd hardly call that agonizing.

Seriously yello, I think you've got a handful of plays by Luke in
your head and you're extending them in your mind to think that
every minute Luke ever played was just like those 3 or 4 plays.
The truth of the matter is that Luke has many many more positive
moments than the handful of negative ones you're recalling.

If you don't believe me, think about this: Phil trusts him. Kobe trusts
him. Who do you think knows whether a basketball player is good
or not: you or Phil? you or Kobe? If Luke really sucked as hard as
you want to believe, Phil wouldn't play him and Mitch would never
have re-signed him.


"You coulda written about anything in the world but you chose to write that? Also dont worry about us ... worry about the Lakers signing LOL."

Wasn't it you who just yesterday went on some little kid rant about possible salary cap "hell?" And you're telling him he coulda written about anything besides that. And again, good stuff chastising Let's go L's for writing about your C's when you can't go one post without writing about the Lakers.

Pot:Hey Kettle

Kettle: Yes?

Pot: You're black

Posted by: Rob | July 10, 2009 at 12:24 PM

If you think that was a little kid rant ... than good for you! Why have the Lakers not signed LOL? As a matter a fact why hasnt anybody signed LOL? Its either cuz he isnt any good or they cant fit him under the "cap." If its cuz hes no good than why do you want him back? Or could it be the cap problem?(The subject I went on a little kid rant about)

I dont care if he writes about the Celtics but why spin all the facts. If he does ... Ill call him out.

So dont worry about the Celtics .... they have no chance of making it out of the East. Also dont worry about the cap ... keep giving out bad contracts (walton,sasha,bynum) and good luck signing LOL. Nothing worse than a player who comes to play 75% of the time ... then cutting his pay in half. Guess how many times he will come to play at half the salary?

Enjoy Dribble Dribble and remember ... Without LOL you are SOL!

>>>Does signing Artest to the MLE mean his contract does not count
>>> for luxury tax purposes?

Every player counts toward luxury tax.

The "exception" is to the salary cap, not luxury tax.

>>>you luke lovers always glorify those occasional good bounce
>>>steps or lobs he makes but what about the other 3 turnovers
>>>where he tried to force a pass in the lane..

Luke's assist to turnover ratio for the 2008-09 season was 2.57, third
only to Fish and Sasha. Guys like Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, and
Shanon Brown were almost twice as likely to turn the ball over on
a pass than Luke.

For comparison, consider these other assist to turnover ratios:

Paul Pierce: 1.29
Gerald Wallace: 1.28
Luol Deng: 1.31
LeBron James: 2.44
Carmelo Anthony: 1.12
Ron Artest: 1.64
Rudy Gay: 0.67
Richard Jefferson: 1.21

I could list more, but I think you get the point. Of the small forwards
in the league, only LeBron comes close to being as efficient a passer
as Luke. Luke & LeBron have passing skills at the level of point
guards. Most small forwards are much much more turnover prone.


Wow! What an emotional response...EXACTLY what I expected from you. You took the bait my friend. You are blessed indeed with the gift of "gab."

For the record, my apologies about Perk. As a starter, should have done better. Might as well have been on the bench! For San Antonio, my comment referred to "other" teams who got better as a "whole" in the NBA. Please "think" twice before you react "emotionally." It's called self-control.

BTW, watching games of your Celtics this past year didn't matter much to me (other than the Lakers 2 regular season wins vs them) considering the end result, which was a Lakers 2008-2009 NBA Championship.

You see, the Celtics didn't "matter" when it came to the finish line. Like I said, they still had two "tough minded" all-stars (future hall of famers) to get it done and a much improved bench. Most importantly, they did not handle "adversity" that well when it fell on their lap, especially "best player in the world" PP. Hmmm...Excuses! Excuses!

I'm sure you can't argue against that logic and reasoning (on second thought, you just might). Believe me, you're not the only hombre in town with basketball intelligence you know. After all, who has the trophy now?

On that note, thanks for being the most "enjoyable" critic on this blog.

Have a nice "Lakers" day!

Laker pride through ALL and any ADVERSITY!

Result? 2008-2009 NBA Champions!

Forget about Ron, forget about Lamar, here's something really important to consider: give Vujacic's minutes to Morrison. Is Morrison a star? - no. Will he ever be a star? - no. Is Vujacic a legit NBA player? - no. Hell, I could guard Vujacic - just drop off of him and let him shoot bricks all day. I've got a feeling about Morrison - if given the chance to play, he won't shoot bricks. Morrison can't create his own shot, but neither can Vujacic. Shooting is the only thing Morrison can do, but that's likewise the only thing Vujacic can do, and he can't even do that.

Let go,

No need to apologize ... it wasnt emotional. Just pointing out your many mistakes. Interesting how you claim our bench was much improved but the rest of Laker fan kept saying it was worse having lost Posey and Brown. I guess its just a matter of opinion which genius is correct.

I know the Celtics didnt matter and wont matter again this year. Dont worry about them. They are old and probably wont it make it to the playoffs.

Im glad you enjoy me cuz I enjoy you and every Laker fan here.

Enjoy Dribble Dribble and remember without LOL you are SOL!

Trevor Ariza was the future of this great Laker team. I am completely shocked that the Laker bloggers do not recognize the contributions he made to win us a campionship. Ron Artest is going to continue to blow his short temper and disapoint.

Mark my words, this was a huge, huge mistake to let Trever go........................

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