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Ron Artest and sports psychology

Before Sunday's win over the Clippers, Ron Artest spoke at length with the media about his work with a  sports psychologist, something he began last year while with the Rockets. Gaining control of his competitive nature is something with which Artest has long struggled, particularly early in his career. Managing losses, keeping his ego in check. That sort of thing. At his introductory press conference, Artest Ron Artest vs. Clippers spoke frankly of his past, acknowledging major mistakes and lamenting a track record as a bad teammate.

Now Artest believes he's on a much healthier path, in part because of a solid support system that includes a psychological outlet, something that will continue in LA.

Andy and I talked with Artest for a few more minutes after the scrum around him broke up. As a kid, Artest said this sort of guidance (in the form of a school counselor) was very effective for him, and when he got away from it his behavior suffered. Young people, though, can be made by authority figures to seek help. Adults, not so much, and the culture of professional sports can make reaching out and accepting it even harder. Whether called counseling, therapy, or sports psychology, to seek it out by definition recognizes personal vulnerabilities and weaknesses often tough for many athletes to admit. "Not for me," Artest said.

It's tough to debate that Artest is wired differently than your average Joe, but he's also extremely self-aware. As much as any athlete I've encountered, he owns his character flaws and transgressions. In the long run, given the winning he's likely to experience in LA and the airtight team structure around him, there are just as many encouraging signs about Artest and how he'll fit in as concerns. More, even.

If it doesn't work, I believe his behavior or perceived instability will be low on the list of reasons why.

BK

(Photo: AP)

 
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Thanks, BK. It's refreshing to see that kind of attitude from a pro athlete who has had problems; too often they just continue down the wrong path.

BK,


Excellent take on Ron’s self-awareness. I continue to be impressed by the both guy’s IQ and sensitivity. Ron is his own man and not afraid to admit or embrace it. I agree 100% with your take on this issue.


Tom


Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant makes the Lakers starting five, 2 out of 5 NBA 1st team all-defense.

Bynum, Gasol, Artest and Kobe = 4 all-stars 2010!

Lakers is shaping up to have a solid bench.
Odom, Ammo, Farmar, Brown = 2nd team.

Powell, Luke, Sasha = 3rd team

Mbenga, Gaffney = bench warmers.

What can I say? I love this guy.

This is why i think Ron will be a great asset to the team. He really wants a ring and is doing nothing but positive things to accomplish that goal. If the Lakers do not repeat it will be from lack of effort & commitment from everyone not just Ron. This is a year when everyone on the team seems to want to reach greatness and are making efforts to do so. Ron will be a great teammate. He possesses the skills to lead a team in case Kobe goes down temporarily. This team is structured to win it again, all they need is the hunger they have had for the last two years.

Tom and others,

I fully hope your are right about Farmar having a great season ahead of him. Truly. I, however, remain insecure.

Remember that Farmar has gotten off to great starts before. Two seasons ago everyone was calling us "deep" in the beginning of the season. That was largely predicated on the run and gun Ariza Farmar duo. By the time the season was half way over the general pattern was the starters creating a lead, Farmar and company losing it, and then the starters having to reestablish it before the game ended. Remember them days?

And since then, Farmar, a game against Houston notwithstanding, has been more eager than able. Even, *gasp* Walton has looked more reliable as a part of the greater team.

So yes, I hope you are correct and that this preseason will not deflate into a miserable one for Farmar. And, lets celebrate his good games! But let's not celebrate his great season yet.

GOOooooooOOOOO LAKERS !!!!

PS BYNUM IS LOOKING VERY BEAST LIKE !!!!

Wow - I've gone from "JUST SAY NO to Artest" to "MAN I LOVE THIS GUY" in a very short period of time.

He is fast becoming one of my favorite Lakers.


AK/BK - any chance of getting him on a live chat or podcast or something?

The draft for the inaugural season of the um, second unofficial Lakers Blog Fantasy league was last night. I thought it went well. Good luck to all involved.

Then I went through the comments from last night’s threads. Weak. Gushing over somebody doing well in a preseason game? We’re the returning champions. Whoop de do. And the Trolls. What happened to starve the trolls? Like that blind three legged dog that smells terrible and lives on garbage in the alley down the street, they will come back if they are fed. And last night y’all were spreading troll-kibble and fresh bones around. Now we’re never going to get rid of those )*(&*)(s.

And LT and AK tearing into each other? That ain’t right. Don’t make me separate you two. LakerTom, AK has a point, although you don’t remind me so much of Mike T as you do of Bill Simmons. You can be a great analyst and you have a great knowledge of the game. But as Bill Simmons became more and more flattered by his success and had his judgment turned into jelly when the Red Sox won a few games, Andrew Bynum is getting into your brain. Yeah, it’s nice to see him do well. But, and let me speak slowly here, we want Andrew Bynum to do well to make the Lakers better. We do not want the Lakers to do well so as the advance the greater glory of Andrew Bynum. As perhaps Utz could remind you, pride goeth etc etc.

AK, as much as LakerTom needs to get himself some humble tacos, the guy is a valuable voice. Who knows how much better the blog is doing not only because of his ability to yank multiple other posters into long, drawn out and heated arguments which can only help the popularity of the blog, but because of his actual talent in sports analysis, which is interesting reading if it doesn’t drag too long into Bynum-worship.

I’m sorry for jumping up on my soapbox again, and I’m sorry if I’m out of place. But I really can’t say I am looking forward to going through 82 games of this sort of thing this season.

Buckle down, guys. We won last year. WE WON! It is now not only possible to stay cool, hang back and enjoy the ride, it is necessary in order to preserve our dignity as Laker fans. We’ve been here before, guys, gals and etc, and we’ll be here again. Act like it.

Much love, of which it is all about, or whatever.

and these icons have got to go. Mine is the exact same color as my grandma's old refrigerator, or perhaps some Gerber strained pea mush. Nastiness all around.

Thank u BK. Phils bulls dynasty won 6 rings without a "traditional" point guard. Once dfish is out of the picture, shannon's skillset would fit in much better with the starting unit... Farmar would be an ideal backup point.

I'm not sure if players or coaches read the blog - or if any information can be passed along......Shannon has a tendency at times to float left (his left) on his jump shot. This happens sometimes with players who truly elevate on a jump shot. Fading in a direction may cause inconsistencies in shooting.

DKWSFO

I'm not sure if players or coaches read the blog - or if any information can be passed along......Shannon has a tendency at times to float left (his left) on his jump shot. This happens sometimes with players who truly elevate on a jump shot. Fading in a direction may cause inconsistencies in shooting.

DKWSFO

Posted by: DKWSFO | October 19, 2009 at 02:41 PM

I know this all too well....I shoot MUCH better going to my left. Now that my hops are gone, I wish i had a consistent flatfooted shot.

Can't wait for the real season to begin. Kobe and Ron are going to be defensive beasts on the court... together, separate, doesn't matter.

AK/BK... I've tried to bite my tongue about the blog format, but this is too much. The icons have pushed me over the edge. What is the point? These fourth-grade-quality wood cut-style icons are ridiculous. They're not poster-specific. They add no quality of readability. They don't embody the purple and gold at ALL. Please, for the love of all that's holy and true, cast a vote to the powers that be. Please.

Go Lake Show!

You added Artest
We added Wallace

2 nut jobs that can make or break a locker room.

Should be a great year!!!!

Random thoughts...

1. Add me to those who think Gaffney deserves to make the team. He's only had limited minutes but definitely shows promise.

2. To me, there shouldn't be a Shannon vs Jordan contest. Shannon is best as a shooting guard where he can stay within his game.

3. Bynum has made the most of preseason playing time, more than any other Laker.

4. Nice to see Artest being a little more aggressive Sunday night.

Go Lakers!

I'm not too worried about Artest at the moment. I think it's just going to take some time to get a new starter adjusted to the players around him. Sometimes it takes awhile for an offense to come together. I'm more concerned with Bynum not moving all that well on defense. With the exception of last night, his rebounding has been pretty poor and he still doesn't look at that motivated on defense. I could really care less about his offense. If he has the energy to beat opposing centers down the court for some easy buckets, he should have more energy for rebounding and protecting the rim. Is more offense really the key to repeating this year? Also, on that note, I'm not sold on Farmar either. I realize ownership is trying to save some money, but I'd rather try to trade for Hinrich to solidify the point. (What good is having Farmar's speed if he's not focused enough defensively to try and stay in front of the speedy opposing point guards they need help against?) That being said, two seasons ago I wasn't thrilled with the way some of the players performed and they managed to make it to the finals. I guess it's still early, but I'm a little nervous about they'll look.


DKWSFO & #4,


>>> I'm not sure if players or coaches read the blog - or if any information can be passed
>>> along......Shannon has a tendency at times to float left (his left) on his jump shot.
>>> This happens sometimes with players who truly elevate on a jump shot. Fading in a
>>> direction may cause inconsistencies in shooting.


I have noticed and pointed out the same thing. That was his problem Saturday night. He is a much better shooter, as is everybody, when they square their shoulders up and don’t have to compensate for floating to the side. He also needs to work a lot on his ball handling and passing skills. There were numerous times when a big man was wide open underneath or had his man sealed and Shannon just could not get the pass there. Eliminate the Tokyo Drift and over-dribbling and work on passing. I think Shannon is better suited to play behind Kobe at the 2. That is why it works so well when he and Jordan are on the floor – better offensive and defensive balance and versatility.


Tom


BK,

I'm really glad to read this, more for Artest than for the Lakers. Life can bechallenge enough without the sort of issues Ron Artest has had. The fact that he is wrestling with them and trying to make changes bodes well for the 40 or so years of life after basketball he will have ahead.

I too am generally optimistic about Artest as a Laker. But taking an established team and fitting in a great player with a strong personality like Ron is not easy. Remember Gary Payton.

I think we are seeing that struggle in the preseason. There is a risk here that has been swept under the rug a bit in the euphoria of the upside, which is very high indeed. This is very disciplined, championship team. I think Ron wants to be part of that and will do what it takes. But watching the Houston series and seeing how he often freelanced in a not so good way, this transition will take time.

I hope that Ron snaps into place this year because he could make the Lakers incredibly tough to beat. More importantly, I hope he can get himself to a place where he can fit into the world better and have a good life.

Tom D.

Posted by: stillhavethoseballoons? | October 19, 2009 at 03:12 PM

No worries, man. Its gonna be a long year, might as well get at least one worthwhile discussion in between all the noise.

I think there is one thing we can agree on: the Lakers and Celtics have got the most interesting off-season acquisitions on MANY levels. For both Sheed and Artest, we'll all say 'WTF did he just do/say?' at some point during the year.

Posted by: LakerTom | October 19, 2009 at 03:43 PM

I agree that Shannon is starting monopolize the ball a bit. I also think that on Sunday night, there was a little more ego involved as he was going at Baron (and vice versa). Hopefully it was a special case of 1upsmanship.

I like Shannon at the shooting guard too, depending on who he is playing with. If he's with the first unit, there almost no way he can monopolize the ball. However, on the second unit he's a great combo with Jordan, like you say. Making a defender choose between a streaking Shannon or Jordan is like a dodging a bullet only to get hit with an arrow.

However, Jordan is the best at running the point guard between the two of them, because his movements with the ball help to run the offense, while Shannon's movement with the ball is typically to get to the basket or get a shot off. As you know, there is a huge difference in those 2 mentalities.

hence, shannon's mentality is very much suited for a shooting guard. IMO, the battle for that position behind Kobe will be between Sasha and Shannon, not Jordan and Shannon. I kinda saw Phil toying with the idea that Sasha be the designated shooter/decoy behind Fish with the first unit.

"If it doesn't work, I believe his behavior or perceived instability will be low on the list of reasons why"

I agree wholeheartedly.

That being said, if it doesn't work, I'm guessing age, declining quickness and a sudden inability to finish around the rim will be high on the list of reasons why. People love to focus on his antics so much, they fail to focus on the most important thing, which is his play on the floor. While he's still an above average player on offense and is obviously very good on defense, he's not the outstanding two way player of years past, his offense especially taking a hit. I think this year he'll be an upgrade for the Lakers, but I worry about the last 2 or 3 years on his deal when he's on the wrong side of 30.

In the end though, it's what Artest is able to add in these next two years that will make this deal a success or a failure. I'm guessing he's got enough left in the tank to make it a success.

Again, JF is absolutely worthless as a defender and the last time I checked, that was 50% of basketball. 2nd, the triangle does not need a traditional PG. Look at Ron Harper, Brian Shaw, and even Fish is not what you would call a true lead guard. 3rd, JF is an absolutely selfish player and does not have the skills to pull it off successfully. Given these points, give me the strong, athletic defender with a nice improving offensive game as my backup point guard and sit the selfish, defenseless know it all or better yet, ship his butt out to a team that actually likes that type of player. He is right up Mike D'Antoni's alley.

Hey Jon K,


Aside from a hot shooting first quarter the Clippers couldn't beat a Pau Gasol/Lamar Odom less team that held out starters in the 4th except for when Bynum came back (and Josh Powell but Josh is more of a career back up). Yeah the Lakers are that damn good but heck when the Clipper still get beaten despite having most of its starters out there while the Lakers still had their reserves means.....

Clippers suck today...Clippers will suck tomorrow...Clippers will suck FOREVER Jon K!

Except for Griffin he looks to be the real deal for his team.

Pride and self indulgence always follow fame and fortune. I am happy to see that Ron, with all the wrong decisions that he has made in the past is well aware and ready to admit the same. It bodes well for our team to have such kind of a person who not only knows that it is so but also seeks to rectify those that he is able and capable of fixing. There aren't too many famous people who is consciously cognizant of this. In fact, denial of wrong doing is the automatic response of these kind of people. In their world, they can never do any wrong. It is indeed refreshing for Artest to talk about this experiences.


#4,


A very astute post. Point guard smart. You can see that Jordan and Shannon make a great team. Other than the one drive where Jordan kept the ball on a 2 on 1, he has been great about getting Shannon the ball where he can do damage. Jordan and Shannon are new, improved version of Jordan and Sasha. Shannon adds defensive toughness that both Jordan and Sasha lack, although Jordan is getting better. I think you’re right the competition will end up being between Shannon and Sasha to back up Kobe.


Tom

BK - good stuff...take a look at the sentence 'Just as many encouraging signs about Artest and how he'll fit in THAN concerns'

#4,

I think you are right that Farmar should lead the second unit at PG, but with Phil's plans of limiting Fish's minutes this season, the question is who is going to get the PG minutes with the starting unit when Fish is resting? Shannon is better suited to play with the starting unit that already has three great playmakers in Kobe, Gasol and Artest. This unit does not need a true PG to run the offense, they need someone who will not dominate the ball, plays tough defense and hit the open shot.

Farmar has been impressive this offseason, and I expect it to continue during his contract year. Like his BFF Luke, the contract year should bring out the best in him. Unfortunately, unless Farmar turns into Chris Paul this season or suddenly becomes a tough defensive player, all signs point to Farmar either being traded (he's been shopped around) or let go at the end of the season (due to salay cap issues). The front office made mistakes in the past by paying players who only perform in their contract year. I don't think they will make the same mistake again.

Great writing there BK. We're all moved by Artest's journey.


Win for Ron. Win for Ron...


Wes

"I'm more concerned with Bynum not moving all that well on defense. With the exception of last night, his rebounding has been pretty poor and he still doesn't look at that motivated on defense. I could really care less about his offense. If he has the energy to beat opposing centers down the court for some easy buckets, he should have more energy for rebounding and protecting the rim. Is more offense really the key to repeating this year?"


Posted by LAfan888


LAfan888,


That's what I'm seeing too. How can Bynum be an effective rebounder when his #1 concern is being the first big man down the court? It seems to me that Bynum should be one of the last men down the court because he should be the one rebounding the ball and making the long outlet passes. But Andrew wants to make the all star team, and points are more important than rebounds I guess.


Wes


Hello Everyone,

Just finished seeing the yesterdays game and i came away with something that i feel needs to be voiced: We need to lobby to have Shannon Brown in the Slam Dunk Contest this year, seriously, our boy would give Lebron a run for his money


IT ALL COMES DOWN TO JUDGMENT…


I believe Jordan, Shannon, and Sasha all have solid talent and ability and are valuable weapons in the Laker repertoire. All three have had bright moments in the spotlight coming off the Lakers bench, just as all three have also had games where they showed why they have are NOT starters in the NBA. Realistically, unless they learn to perform more consistently, they may never make it to be starters. It’s not impossible that Jordan and Shannon may be re-signed for no raise and platooned at point according to the matchup, which could work for a team as loaded and taxed as the Lakers.
-
Jordan probably has the best chance to become a starter among the three since his skill set best fits the Lakers need at point guard, which is the only position on the Lakers not manned by an All-Star. Because we run the Triangle, though, Shannon will also get a shot to prove he could handle the job. Sasha is probably doomed to come off the bench because he doesn’t have Jordan’s playmaking or Shannon’s athleticism and defense – and he also plays behind KB24, who ain’t going anywhere.
-
One thing that I think is being underrated by some is the impact a playmaking point guard can have on the fluidity, efficiency, and ball movement of the offense. It’s easy to understand why Shannon is a better matchup defensively than Jordan when we play against Deron Williams and the Jazz but there is a flip side to that coin in that Jordan has the skill set to make the starting offense really hum. We saw Shannon last Saturday as the starter and he failed that audition with over-dribbling, poor shot selection, and stupid turnovers. Farmar started in the playoffs and was a better fit.
-
What it comes down to in my opinion is judgment. That was Jordan’s problem last year. He just didn’t seem to understand what his role was and as result had several outings as embarrassing and discouraging as Shannon’s performance Saturday, where he also basically just made bad decisions. Both of these guys have great talent but desperately need to mature and start consistently making good decisions and playing within their capabilities and limits EVERY game. I mean imagine either guy playing at the level of consistency that Pau or Kobe play. That’s what I’m hoping for.


Tom


"I'm more concerned with Bynum not moving all that well on defense. With the exception of last night, his rebounding has been pretty poor and he still doesn't look at that motivated on defense. I could really care less about his offense. If he has the energy to beat opposing centers down the court for some easy buckets, he should have more energy for rebounding and protecting the rim. Is more offense really the key to repeating this year?"


Posted by LAfan888


LAfan888,


That's what I'm seeing too. How can Bynum be an effective rebounder when his #1 concern is being the first big man down the court? It seems to me that Bynum should be one of the last men down the court because he should be the one rebounding the ball and making the long outlet passes. But Andrew wants to make the all star team, and points are more important than rebounds I guess.


Wes


Posted by: wesjoenixon | October 19, 2009 at 06:07 PM

You guys have to beware of Laker Tom's incoming salvos of "Bynum Bashers". Yes I agree with you guys with Bynum being too offensive minded with less emphasis on the defensive end where he still continues to have problems defending the screen and roll properly. Yet if you don't agree with Laker Tom despite being big Bynum fans you are more classified as "Bynum bashers".

It's good though he is the first in the court that means teams will have to adjust to him quickly which will mean less emphasis on Kobe and Pau. The only problem though is that he won't be as emphasized defensive wise that Dwight Howard is atm.


Wes & LAFan888,


I think it is obvious that Andrew is doing exactly what his coaches instructed him to do by trying to stay ahead of the ball and beat his man to the other end in transition. I also think we will see more of it as long as the Lakers are still controlling the offensive glass. And if you check the rebounding stats so far this preseason, including last night, you’ll see the Lakers controlled the defensive boards.
-
Who gets the boards does not really count. Last night, Drew stayed back more and grabbed 13 boards because Lamar and Pau were out. Even then, there were times when Drew was pulled to perimeter by his defender and thus had opportunities to try and beat his man down court and seal him in the post. This is all by Phil’s design. If you remember, we did the exact same thing with Kwame Brown.
-
Fans need to understand just like there are only so many shots, there are also only so many rebounds. If we can control the boards with Pau or Lamar, then we are going to see Drew sprinting to the other end to post up for an easy shot every time he is not directly involved in the play. It is a great strategy to combat teams drawing Drew out to the perimeter. Mostly, however, it speeds up the tempo of the game which we like, often forces the other team to concede the rebound, and best creates a mismatch where Drew has deep low post position or is ready for an easy dunk of a lob if a Laker penetrates.


Tom

Laker Tom,

Thanks for the nice words. Appreciate it.

And for what it's worth, I actually agree with you that Shannon may spend a decent amount of time backing up Kobe at the two. It's actually something BK and I have debated on more than one occasion during the podcast. Granted, I don't think he's out of the PG mix by any means, but between his skill set not revolving as heavily around playmaking and strength/athleticism that I think can handle defending two-guards, I see Phil utilizing that flexibility. The Farmar/Brown backcourt has, by and large, performed nicely.

Of course, I also had pegged Shannon at the 2 a lot in part because Sasha played so poorly last season, and thus far, his preseason has been both good and specifically addressing past issues (trigger happiness, playing way too frantic). But I could also see Phil going small in matchup situations with all three out there and Sasha at the 3. And frankly, Sasha's playmaking/decisions this preseason have been arguably the best I've ever seen. Granted, I've always remarked that the only person who considers Sasha a true PG option is Sasha, and I remain unconvinced along those lines, but if he kept this up, he could theoretically steal minutes from JF or SB at the one. It's a nice "problem" for PJ.

Honestly, I don't really think Shannon or Farmar has a true edge on the other when it comes to replacing Fisher. Both have a LONG way to go before looking in the rear view, so for now, I'm just content to see both playing well. I understand the urge to speculate (it's fun) and it's obviously a big decision facing the organization and the players. But in reality, neither strikes me as remotely in the driver's seat.

AK

LakerTom and Laker Truth,

The funny thing is, regarding this position, all 3 guys in question are having nice preseasons. Jordan is making some great decisions, Shannon is making athletic plays, and Sasha's been hot. They aren't making it easy to see what Phil is going to do.

The only thing that I think we can see is that the first unit does not need the sort of guidance a point guard can give. A shooter or the best defender of the 3 can play there next to Kobe. Then when Jordan come in, that person slide to the 2, being Kobe's back up.

Of the 2 combos (Jordan/Sasha or Jordan/Brown), the latter is obviously more spectacular and more defensively astute. However, I wouldn't deny that Sasha doesn't have something to add here. His presence creates spacing and an outlet when the all else fails.

Again, all of their minutes will overlap in someway. Additionally, were seeing these guys play without Lamar in the mix (who himself is a viable ball handler and post up) or Luke (who helps organize the offense, one of Jordan's functions). If anything, I think 3/4s of the season will be taken up in trying to find a good mix. Phil didn't figure out the small forward position for awhile either. I kinda see it going that way.


AK,


Superb summation of the situation. Once the dust settled, we agree 100% about all 3 of these guys. It’s even possible in my mind that we keep them both for the same pay and they end up in some form of matchup platooning. One would start but both would play similar minutes. And that could work perfectly if both mature and learn to do what they each do best consistently with good judgment.


Tom

I think Ron channels his energy and inertia effectively meaning into his game. How about Milton Bradley? Can someone get that guy some help?

Caps' Goggles:

Anybody who goes against LeBron in the Dunk competition will not win cuz the stage had been set for LeBron to win it even before he finally decided to do it. The NBA would not let LeBron get played like that, they have too much invested in the GOD!, oops I mean, the King!

BK,

"It's tough to debate that Artest is wired differently than your average Joe, but he's also extremely self-aware"

Self-awareness is essential to experience life with any depth. As it has been said, "A life left unexaminated is not a life worth living."

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

Thriller is awesome. His HUMILITY while maintaining a viscious sense of competitiveness is absolutely refreshing. Any person who works to be the best person he can be to better assist his team is alright by me.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

I heard from the front office that the reason Kareem was "let go," was not due to a Bynum conflict but rather so they could make room for Dennis Rodman as a consultant to the team to work with Ron. lol.


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