Ron Artest explains how his new shoes make him play better
In what likely marks one of the greatest grand exits ever, Lakers forward Ron Artest left the team's facility in El Segundo on Saturday just as he appeared on the verge of answering Coach Phil Jackson's criticisms about wearing shoes from Peak last season. Jackson had often described Artest's shoes as "concrete boots" and suggested that they contributed to his plantar fasciitis and inconsistent shooting percentage.
"My defense was so unbelievable. Phil just was, he was probably concerned a little bit," Artest said after practice Saturday. "He probably was concerned because my feet were hurting at the time and it carried over to my foot."
"He doesn't understand," Artest continued. "Back in the days, they didn't have ... "
Artest then trailed off and stopped at mid-sentence. "I'm gonna shut up," he said. "All right. I'm gonna shut up." Artest then walked away from a brief interview and went into the trainer's room.
Jackson is never shy about needling Artest, but at least it won't be about his shoes anymore. Artest recently signed with a new shoe company, BALL'N, and has worn the purple-and-gold model so far this season, a move he says makes him no longer feel inhibited in laying out his full intensity on the court.
"I'm able to make movements where I really don't have to worry about my joints hurting and things hurt like that," Artest said of the shoes, which feature d3o shock-absorption performance technology. The feature allows his feet to stay more stable on contact. "I like it because I feel like I can play hard the whole time."
That should be good news for the Lakers, considering Artest entered training camp weighing 250 pounds and has appeared more mobile and lighter since then. The new deal marks his eighth shoe endorsement in 11 years, and in the video above, Artest seemed to rattle off every single shoe company imaginable that used to endorse him.
"I like to have fun," he said, adding that he soon plans to a shoe and clothing line in his name. "I don't like to be bored."
Neither does Jackson, who says the new shoe deal has made a difference.
"I told him his feet have been alive this year," the coach said. “He has more hop to [his step]."
-- Mark Medina
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