Archive for the 'Ron Artest' Category

Metta World Peace: 2012 Exit Interview

Metta World Peace overcame a slow start to the 2011-12 season – plagued by offseason injury during the lockout – by rallying after the All-Star break, his numbers jumping to 10.7 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.08 steals on 43 percent field goals and 33.1 percent on threes compared to 4.9 points, 5.9 boards, 4.0 assists and 1.72 steals on 33.5 percent field goals and 23.9 percent three pointers.

In the playoffs, MWP went for 11.7 points plus 3.5 boards, 2.3 assists and 2.17 steals on 36.7 percent field goals.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On still believing the Lakers should be playing: “Definitely underachieved. We’re the best team in the NBA, lost in five, we should be up 3-2 playing tomorrow. But the better team (OKC) that took advantage of the moment, of their time, seized it and they grabbed it and held onto it. We gotta find a way to hold onto our moments.”

- On next season, while describing his slow start: “I gotta come back just how I left off. I was playing at a high level and need to be able to stay there. The lockout hurt me a lot, because last season going into the playoffs I had a nerve issue in my back … once the lockout happened I wasn’t able to address it so all I could do was rest. It took me 2-3 months to get in shape. I was hitting the front of the rim a lot at the beginning of the season, but as I got in shape, shots started to go right. I started to get a lot of dunks … that was only because I was in shape.”

- Metta says that several of the Lakers need to trust themselves more and not depend on Kobe so much. “Mitch brought you here for a reason,” as he put it. He said it can be difficult to play with Kobe while thinking about his greatness and legacy, that teammates – not himself – had a problem being assertive knowing that Kobe was there. He has a good point, but it can be a chicken and egg argument. Is that lack of aggression at times because Kobe is extra aggressive? For World Peace, at least, that stopped being an issue; he didn’t just stand and watch Kobe try to win games like he may have in his first season. Think Game 7 of the Finals vs. Boston for a good example. He was never afraid to shoot or create a play, make or miss.

- World Peace on Mike Brown: “It was a new regime … a drastic change. It took a bit getting used to.” But World Peace said it wasn’t the coaching staff’s fault that guys missed shots, turned the ball over and the like in – for example – Game 2 and Game 4, when they led big late. “Mike didn’t come in out of shape” … then he reconsidered, and said, laughingly, “wait he did come in out of shape … he’s a fat#&@.”

- Metta kept returning to the theme that the Lakers had plenty of talent, but couldn’t find a way to channel it properly when it counted. He likes to discuss the inside dominance that Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum possess, discussing – for example – how they controlled the tempo of Game 2 against the Thunder by playing at that pace, but lamented that they couldn’t do it more consistently. Throughout the season, MWP would often say the Lakers couldn’t be beaten if they played at the pace of Bynum and Gasol, but that became easier said than done against teams like Denver and Oklahoma City.

- On his loyalty to the Lakers: “The Lakers did a lot for me. I like it here. The Lakers did nothing but great things for me; I got a championship here, something I always wanted. I don’t really talk about myself, just what can make the team better, whatever is in the best interest of the Lakers.”

- World Peace wasn’t sure if he’d be able to find his dominance again, but credited Dr. Judy Seto, the team’s physical therapist, for figuring out what was wrong with him and getting him back to what he was physically. That excited him greatly, and has him eager for next season. He also cited the work of the team’s strength coach, Tim DiFrancesco.

World Peace Rising

With Kobe Bryant’s imminent return
on Friday at San Antonio, the minutes and shot dispersal of L.A.’s perimeter players that have stepped up in his absence will change … just not too much, Bryant hopes, particularly in the case of Metta World Peace.

We’ll get to MWP’s jump in production shortly, but even generally speaking, Bryant explained that he doesn’t want his teammates to play any differently than they did in his absence, so impressed was he with their performance in going 5-2.

“It’s been good to see how much guys have progressed, doing things they would ordinarily not try to do,” he said after the team’s Wednesday win at Golden State. “When I’m not out there, you have to do other things. You have to experiment with your game. They had a great deal of success with it.”

Bryant’s replacement in the starting line up, Devin Ebanks, averaged 25 minutes, 6.1 points and 2.9 rebounds on 6.3 field goal attempts in doing precisely what was asked of him. Since Bryant averages 38.5 minutes per game, the 25 per from Ebanks left 13.5 additional minutes to disperse mostly between World Peace and Matt Barnes. With Kobe’s 28.1 points per game on 23 field goal attempts a night out of the line up, both wings filled the void by upping their production, with MWP carrying much of the burden:

World Peace: 36.4 minutes, 16.3 points, 12.7 field goal attempts
Barnes: 27.6 mpg, 11.6 ppg, 7.8 FGA’s

World Peace: 25.8 mpg, 6.5 ppg, 6.5 FGA’s
Barnes: 22.3 mpg, 7.3 ppg, 5.9 FGA’s

Can L.A. get that sustained production and aggressive nature from World Peace once Bryant returns as the primary perimeter focus?

Bryant thinks so.

In his much-celebrated role as positive/extremely well-dressed assistant coach, Kobe surely noticed how effective World Peace has been, and has acknowledged how much more dangerous the Lakers are when MWP plays with that edge on offense.

In fairness, the rise of World Peace didn’t come out of nowhere; it didn’t start when Kobe went out. In fact, World Peace upped his shooting from 34 percent before the All-Star break to 43 percent since, and dropped 23 points on 8 of 13 FG’s in the game before Kobe went out. Indeed, MWP’s play has steadily improved as the season has worn on, due in no small part to his body getting in increasingly better shape after an injury-plagued offseason that made it difficult for him to train as he normally would.

“Even with Kobe returning, Metta will be more aggressive since he’s continued to get into better shape,” said Lakers player development coach Phil Handy. “I don’t see that changing over the rest of the season. Metta’s goal was to be in tip-top shape by the time the playoffs started, and that’s exactly what he’s done.”

The increase in minutes and field goal attempts has helped all the more, and not just physically.

“We’ve just been finding out a lot of things about ourselves,” Peace explained. “I had to do this when I was in Sacramento with Kevin Martin and John Salmons. I had to sit out some games sometimes. I was scoring a lot but I didn’t see what other guys could do and I wasn’t giving other guys the opportunity.

“Then I realized that these guys could really play and then that grew confidence in guys. It’s the same situation. (Kobe is) seeing something.”

With that said, no one’s more excited than World Peace for No. 24′s return.

“I can’t wait to have Kobe back, I just can’t wait,” he said. “I’ll be so happy to have him back and get him back in shape. I came here to play with Kobe. I know what type of player Kobe is and I want to win some rings and that’s why I came to Los Angeles. I can’t wait until he’s back.”

On Friday, Peace will get his wish, and if MWP plays like he’s been playing, so will Bryant.

Metta World Peace

What, exactly, does the title of this post mean, you wonder?

Well … that’s going to be Ron Artest’s name.

A former employee of Artest’s informed the Lakers on Thursday evening, just before the 2011 NBA Draft, that the veteran filed paperwork in Los Angeles to change his name to “Metta World Peace.”

Artest’s new first name, “Metta,” is Buddhist for “loving kindness,” pretty consistent with “World Peace.”

We’ll try and figure out whether or not the NBA will allow Artest to change his name on his jersey, but we do know that the Lakers do not have any say in the matter.

For, we’ve yet to decide whether or not to refer to Artest by just “Metta,” “Metta World Peace,” “Peace” or “MWP.” Feel free to offer your preferences on Twitter.

Follow Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) on Twitter.

Ron Artest: 2010-11 Exit Interview

Ron Artest averaged 8.5 points on 39.7 percent shooting with 3.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and a team-best 1.5 steals while starting all 82 games. In the postseason, he added 10.6 points on 44.3 percent shooting with 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.1 steals.

He was the team’s best perimeter defender, and as many coaches and players around the league would say, still one of the league’s best on the defensive end. Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- On Phil Jackson’s last game: “Muhammad Ali is one of the greatest ever and he lost his last fight.”

- Summing the season up: “I’m proud of Luke, (Bynum*) Lamar, Fisher, Kobe and Gasol. They did what not many people have done, they went to the championship three years in a row. We had six people play 82 games that probably should have sat some games. We were ready to fight, but I think our legs were gone. They played almost 400 something games the last three years. A lot of the guys that are (playing) now were home in April the last couple of years. A lot of teams that are still in it, even the veterans weren’t making it as far as the Lakers was. This year was unfortunate, but I’d be more than happy to go to battle with these guys again.”
*Artest actually said “Pau” there, but we’ll assume he meant Bynum, instead of accounting twice for the Spaniard even though Bynum missed the 2008 playoffs.

- On how difficult it is to hold hungry teams off as the champions: “As a team, when you think about what they’ve done … (and) Kobe’s done it twice, he went to the Finals three times in a row twice, and I’m sure he’ll be there again. When you think about the future, (there is) a reason to be excited, to be motivated. Dallas … everybody wanted to beat the Lakers, and sometimes teams come to L.A. and they don’t have a worry on their mind. They come into L.A. and they feel free, they have nothing to lose. We lose to teams like Cleveland and Minnesota that has nothing to lose and come in and beat us, and then when you get an actual good team that’s playing with nothing to lose? Everybody wants to beat the Lakers … it was tough. You just gotta come back stronger.”

- Artest said he did not attempt to hit J.J. Barea in the face, which caused his suspension for Game 3. He was reaching out for a foul, and, in his words: “The guy’s 5’2” … I’m reaching down, there’s only so much more down I can go. His face was right in my hand. It was very unfortunate. Whatever happened was just unfortunate, it was uncalled for.”

- On what the team needs to win a championship next year: “I think this sweep helped. It’s humbling. To move in the right direction, get that hunger back.” Artest was asked if the team can respond without major changes, and he was convinced in the affirmative.

- On his individual season: “I think in the playoffs I played good. I started out playing well. My defense was pretty good. I played a good role. I showed I can score the ball, but that’s not my role on this team. When I came here I sacrificed money, and I sacrificed scoring*. I can play any role. I was licking my chops when I saw (Shawn) Marion and (Peja) Stojakovic on me, I would have loved to give those guys 30, but it’s not my role.

Artest on Phil Jackson: “It was fun. He’s a team coach. There’s nothing more than you can ask for, when you’re coaching 15 guys, the No. 1 priority is the 15 guys. I think he did a good job of stressing to us to play together, butt we didn’t execute his vision this year.”

- On his offseason goals: “Stay in the gym. I stay in the gym all year round. Once I leave here I’m going right to the gym, and get started. That’s exciting, to have something to shoot for.” And he did, literally, walk through the door into the gym, his practice clothes already on. Understated on a team with Kobe Bryant, notorious through his career as a gym rat (though his injuries prevented him from practicing much this season), was the fact that Artest basically lives in the gym.

Artest Out, Phil Mum on Game 3 SF Starter

In the regular season, the Lakers enjoyed the rare type of NBA consistency that saw four starters play all 82 games, and Phil Jackson have to use only two line ups all year:

1) Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol
2) Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum

He’ll have to try a third line up, however, in Game 3 of the Western Semi’s against Dallas, since Artest was suspended for a game for “swinging his arm and striking the face of the Dallas Mavericks’ J.J. Barea,” according to the NBA. The incident occurred with just 24.4 seconds left in Game 2, which L.A. lost 93-81.

Jackson wasn’t going to tell us who will start at small forward after Thursday’s practice, revealing only that we (the media) would find out prior to the game.

Judging from the past few seasons, however, Jackson is not likely to want to disrupt his front court rotation, so starting Odom would be unlikely. We may have expected Matt Barnes to start at small forward, with Luke Walton getting reserve minutes, and Kobe Bryant sliding up to the 3 at times in which Jackson has Shannon Brown at the two … but an alternative line up would be Brown starting at the two, and Bryant at the three.

Artest really struggled offensively in the first two games, hitting only 27.8 percent of his shots, including 1-of-7 from three-point range after a really solid shooting performance in Round 1.

Barnes attempted only eight shots in Games 1 and 2, making two, in 13.0 mpg, but the Lakers surely hope he’ll be able to better establish a rhythm by playing big road minutes in a playoff game, something he’s never done in Purple and Gold. Brown went a combined 6-of-10 in the first two games, missing the only three triple he made but finished well at and around the rim.

We’ll see how it all pans out in a bit over 24 hours when Game 3 tips in Dallas.

Lakers Pre-Playoff Injury Update

Heading into Game 1 of the playoffs, here’s an injury update from L.A.’s Friday afternoon practice:

- The 7-foot center, who hyperextended his right knee, resulting in a bone bruise in the Lakers’ Tuesday win over San Antonio, missed the team’s final game at Sacramento but practiced fully on Friday. Assistant coach Brian Shaw and Kobe Bryant alternatively said that Bynum looked “normal” and “good,” while Phil Jackson said ‘Drew looked a bit loose at the start, but fine as practice continued.

Bynum weighed in himself, saying that he was “fine” and had “no limitations” but was merely excited to get the first game started. Good news for the Lakers, certainly, after what initially looked like a potentially serious injury.

IN SHORT: Bynum will start Game 1.

- Barnes did not practice on Friday after sitting out the team’s final two regular season games. Barnes missed 26 games from Jan. 7 (incidentally against the Hornets) to March 4 while recovering from a surgical procedure to repair torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. Barnes has been experiencing soreness this week, but a Wednesday MRI revealed no structural damage.

IN SHORT: Barnes is listed as “probable” for Game 1 and is expected to play.

- Blake came down with the chicken pox earlier in the week and continues to have the “indefinitely” tag upon him as far as when he might return. Jackson revealed that he drove over to Blake’s house to drop off some video shown to the rest of the team, and described his backup point guard as “speckled.”

IN SHORT: Blake is definitely out for Game 1.

Ron Artest Champions Mental Health

62167446Ron Artest made a big difference on the basketball court throughout L.A.’s run through the 2010 playoffs, and even hit the biggest shot in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston.

Throughout the summer and into the 2010-11 season, Artest is trying to make an even bigger difference off the floor while shining a light on mental health issues in kids for their ultimate benefit and well-being.

Artest has managed to create quite a buzz around the topic by announcing his in-place plan to auction off his 2010 championship ring. Dressed sharply in a suit, Artest joined “Larry King Live” on Wednesday evening to discuss:

I’d rather give more people an opportunity to get it so I can get the message out, because it’s not about the money but more about the message … I’m emotionally attached and invested in trying to better the youth, mainly people who grew up how I grew up. I had a lot of mental health issues in my household … I know guys who had a chance to make it in academics or athletics but go back to the streets and go to jail, they get murdered, things like that. I’m trying to catch these kids right where the turning point (could be) to possibly affect their lives negatively.

It’s the same message Artest has been putting out throughout the preseason. In fact, we chatted about the issue back in Las Vegas on Oct. 13, where Artest was awarded the key to the city. Below is a transcript of the conversation:

MT: What did it feel like to be given the Key to Las Vegas for your work in the community?
Artest: It was really cool, definitely something that I accepted and I appreciate the gesture. Councilman Olsen presented the key to me, and (Nevada) Senator (Harry) Reid came as well. They acknowledged what I was doing in the community.

MT: For those that don’t know, can you describe what you’re doing for mental health and how it developed?
Artest: It’s about supporting and bringing awareness to mental health particularly as it applies to children. The way that I had thought about making this movement big was not the way that it happened. I envisioned going through YouTube to do it, and I had a plan. Then it happened through a Lakers championship, and definitely without being on the Lakers and some of my teammates, it wouldn’t have happened this way.

MT: I know it’s something that’s very important to you personally based in part on how you grew up in Queens…
Artest: Oh yes. Personally, it’s definitely something that I’m emotionally invested in because from family to friends (having issues) I experienced both sides of psychology and psychiatry.

MT: How did all of this come about in Vegas?
Artest: Wow, I really don’t know. But I got my own day in New York on July 15, and now I have my own day in Las Vegas, October 13. I don’t know how long it lasts, I guess forever. People say, ‘What can you do with that key,’ but it’s not a key to like, entertainment in Las Vegas or anything. It’s a key to bring focus to mental health awareness. It’s a key to open up the minds of people to what I think is important.

MT: How would you sum up your message?
Artest: It all comes back to education. I know people personally, for a fact that are in jail because they didn’t have a father or mother in their life and didn’t have (an adult figure) pushing the right values. So before the next kid doesn’t have someone positive involved in their life, let’s fix it right now, because it will just cycle again. Because then when that kid gets older, he wouldn’t be in his kid’s life.

MT: So a big part of your goal is to have adult influences available for kids that need them starting at an early age?
Artest: I think a lot of adults right now are a little immature about how they handle the world, because we’re not responsible from pollution to education. But when we’re gone, we’re leaving these kids a mess, so they have to be able to be mentally strong enough to weather that storm. How are they going to fix it? You don’t need a bunch of unstable kids without education. It’s an important challenge, and a fun challenge (for us) to start helping now.

From Queens, With Love

62208842Eighteen years ago, two 12-year-old kids from Queens, New York, met for the first time, paired on the same basketball team due to their already-advanced talents.

Back then, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest could only dream to one day, somehow, be standing side by side as NBA Champions. But that, of course, is exactly what happened on Tuesday evening at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

Among the most poignant moments during a pregame ring ceremony in which each of the nine returning Lakers from the 2010 championship team took turns introducing one another was when Odom gave Artest his ring.

Here’s how Odom put it:

I usually get nervous when I have to talk in front of people, but tonight I feel like I’m at home. It helps, because the next person I’m about to bring out I’ve known since I was 12 years old. When we were 12 years old, he was really quiet, and now he takes his clothes off on Jimmy Kimmel and he raps. But there’s nobody like him. I can’t say enough about him. We come from the same family tree in New York City of basketball, and I just want him to know that his family is proud of him. The one and only, Ron Artest.

It’s (very) Early, But Ron Ron’s On Fire

101002_rononfireRon Artest is currently NBA JAM style en fuego. No, really.

The Lakers starting small forward, who struggled with his three-point shooting late last season*, has barely missed a shot in camp.
*Artest shot 35.5% in the regular season and 29.1% in the playoffs.

Of course, it is so much earlier than early – the regular season doesn’t start for 24 days – that it’s almost silly to mention, but … oh well.

“He’s definitely in a groove,” said assistant coach Jim Cleamons. “We were teasing him the last two days before we left because of (how hot he was) on Thursday, and today he was on fire again. Let’s hope he saves some of that for the regular season.”

Cleamons, not wanting to jinx Artest, declined to actually analyze why the shots were falling like rain drops in London (is it his form? Getting his feet set? New stroke?), but had this to offer: “All I know is his shot is, as they say in the vernacular, ‘wet’ right now.”

Artest Switches to Jersey #15

Lakers forward Ron Artest won a championship while sporting the No. 37 jersey in his first year in Los Angeles, but has decided to switch things up heading into year two.

The Lakers on Friday confirmed a report that Artest will wear No. 15, his first jersey number in the NBA with Chicago, as well as the digits he wore in college at St. Johns.

During the 2009-10 season, Artest mentioned that he would consider switching jerseys every year, so we’ll have to wait and see how long No. 15 lasts.

The Queens, New York native won’t be the only Lakers player with a uniform number not seen last season. Here’s the list:

Steve Blake: 5
Matt Barnes: 9
Theo Ratliff: 50
Devin Ebanks: 3
Derrick Caracter: 58

Caracter, a second-round pick like Ebanks, will be sporting the number of his overall draft position, while Ebanks will wear the former jersey number of Trevor Ariza. Former No. 9′s include Nick Van Exel, Bryon Russell and Chucky Atkins, while Eddie Jordan wore both numbers five and 15 in his Lakers career.