Ron Artest acknowledges sending out Tweets criticizing Phil Jackson
Lakers forward Ron Artest sent out a series of Twitter messages criticizing Coach Phil Jackson and owned up to it Friday when shown a copy of the dispatches, saying, "I'll handle it."
Shortly thereafter, while talking to reporters, Artest said he wasn't mad at Jackson and shrugged when asked if he had sent out the messages, or "Tweets."
"I'm only talking to you about basketball," he said. "Twitter is for my fans."
Artest is active on the social-networking site, often sending out updates about where he is eating or, earlier this season, at what nightclubs he is appearing.
Jackson seemed more amused than anything when told of Artest's actions.
"I've been very up front with him about his three-point shooting," Jackson said. "I'll talk to Ron about it. I know he he's sensitive about it. I had a player once who was one of the great bench players, Toni Kukoc, was two-for-29 going into the Finals and I used to kid him about it all the time about his percentage and he ended up hitting, like, four in one ballgame against Seattle.
"We expect [Artest] to break out of it at some point, but he's got to be discriminative of what's a good shot and what isn't."
The messages began Thursday night at 9 p.m. with the unedited statement that, “Finally Phil Jackson didn’t mention me in media before talking me Now I can build on game 2. Hopefully he talks to me before the media.”
Then came the second dispatch, an hour later, also unedited: “Ever since phil mention things about me in media before coming to me first I was weird. So every pray he can somehow close his yapper and now say AMEN.”
The third post, an hour after the second one, said that: “Its just something that I have to get use to. He is a different stlye coach. Just bad timing during playoffs and midseason for me!!
“I think right now the team is improving so we just need to keep building or moving ahead or forward. Locking down etc....”
Artest's brother, Daniel, wrote on his own Twitter account a couple of hours later that, “Whoever hacked [Artest’s] twit page is foul.”
Before Artest spoke to reporters after Friday's practice, a statement from one of Artest's representatives said the account had been hacked.
Jackson had been praising Artest's defense throughout the playoffs but said publicly last week that he wanted the Lakers' forward to reduce his number of three-point attempts and pass the ball more often.
Artest is shooting a dismal seven for 42 (16.7%) from three-point range in six playoff games. The Lakers lead the Utah Jazz, 2-0, in a best-of-seven series that continues Saturday in Utah.
Is Artest, one of the game's top defenders, really that sensitive?
"I guess so. I guess he might be a little sensitive," Jackson said. "I usually tell the truth. I usually don't pull punches. A person has to withstand that. If they're hearing it on TV in front of a massive audience, they must understand that their coach saying it to them is going to be probably a little more harmful, a little more hurtful perhaps, but they have to be tough enough to take that on.
"Ron's been great. I think still at times, you still see a little hesitation in his game out there sometimes when he catches the ball as to where the next option goes, but he's finding his way."