On Ron Artest, Daniel Plainview, and the consumption of milkshakes
Sunday afternoon, Ron Artest became the latest celeb to get himself a creation at Millions of Milkshakes in West Hollywood. "It's blueberry, peach, pineapple, and protein. Soy milk, with a non-dairy ice cream. It's pretty healthy, and if somebody wants to drink it, it should be pretty light on the stomach and give you some energy," he said Monday at practice. "I wanted to get something that kind of symbolizes what I'm about. How I like to work out, and something a little more on the healthier side."
Technically, it's more a smoothie than milkshake, but still it sounds delicious. I mention this first because now when I go taste the Artest shake I can quite legitimately call it a business expense, and also because it allows me to embed the following in a way that while a little self-indulgent (sue me) is also reasonably appropriate:
This morning, I posted comments from Lakers assistant Brian Shaw about how, like a great defensive back in football can cut off half the field, the presence of individual defenders on the basketball court can discourage opponents from running certain sets or swinging the ball in a particular direction. Artest says he's familiar with this sort of thing, having for a long time made lockdown, game plan-altering defense his proverbial milkshake. "I was probably one of the best defenders probably for the last decade or so," he said, "I definitely have to be one of those types. (I experienced that) almost every night. Almost every night I played, with coaches and players. Sometimes players won't even pass guys the ball."
He is aware, though, that some wonder if the opposition will now be able to take a drink. "I guess everybody's trying to see if I'm wearing down and getting slower, so they'll test me out and we'll see what outcome happens. I look forward to it every night. Every night I look forward to playing against the best player and giving guys a chance not to help so much. I can stay on my man, and you don't have to help as much when I'm being iso-ed."
I don't think we'll have a real feel for how much Artest can impact LA's defense on a night in, night out basis for at least a month or two. It can take that long for a team to coalesce anyway, and swapping Artest for Trevor Ariza changes the rhythm with which the Lakers will play defense even if the system is the same. It takes time for everyone to learn who needs help in what spot, where, against what sort of offensive player, and so on, and recalibrate from last season.
By playoff time, the goal is to make LA's collective milkshake entirely straw proof.
Lactose free news from El Segundo to follow below shortly...
*UPDATE* And here it is... complete with moving pictures!
-With Tuesday's season opener/ring ceremony less than 24 hours away, it was neither surprising nor inappropriate for Phil Jackson to issue a warning to his players, reminding them that while the jewelry is cool (and from what I heard, substantial), it's not the primary goal of the evening. "It's very difficult to win on a ring night. the distractions are great, and people are living in the past and on their laurels of the past. You're only a success in the moment you complete a successful act. That's one of the things we tell these players. Last year's success, that was over in June. We're almost in November now, and it's game time, so we have to remember that."
For Lamar Odom, it's an opportunity to celebrate with the fans. "We won in Orlando, so to be able to relive that moment in front of our home crowd is special," he said. "This is for the fans. It's not about actually having the ring. It's something I'll probably give to my son. He's looking forward to seeing it a little bit more than me. This is for the fans."
Not that he's indifferent. "Everyone loves jewelry," he smiled. But, as he's said since the start of camp, the reason to win a title is to go win another. "That's what it's all about."
- The Lakers have decorated the previously plain walls of the practice facility with championship banners and retired jerseys. It's a welcome change for Derek Fisher, even if only on an HGTV level. "It's probably more so about decoration than motivation, but it's about time we got something on these walls. There were days where coming in here and just seeing these white walls was not that easy to do. But we feel very fortunate to be in a position where we have an organization and are part of an organization that has championship banners to put up, and some of these individual jerseys that you see of Magic and James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, those types of names and some of the greatest players in the history of the NBA, I think that as a player it can be individually motivating. That you're a part of greatness and the history of greatness."More on motivation, from Kobe Bryant:
-Finally, the highlight of the day for the organization was very likely a visit from Tex Winter. He was at the facility, and seemed in very good spirits, talking with players, coaches, and certain media members as he continues to recover from an April stroke. When Kobe came out from the locker room to do his time with us, he stopped to give Tex a squeeze. It wasn't a time to grill him on his health (mercifully, the media still has some sense of decorum) but just to see him around and communicating made for a great afternoon.