Trouble began to brew late Friday night in Utah, as Ron Artest dribbled around aimlessly in the fourth quarter before hoisting up an awful shot. Artest again made a few questionable decisions on the offensive end last night, as the Lakers lost in dramatic fashion to the Indiana Pacers at home.
Phil Jackson was unimpressed to say the least, and for the second consecutive game, he pulled Ron-Ron aside to discuss matters. Jackson wouldn’t divulge details of the chat, but Artest was more than happy to share.
Fox Sports has the quotes:
“He told me I should have called timeout when we got the offensive rebound,” Artest said. “Kobe wanted the ball. Kobe was going to hit a three. When I saw Kobe, I was going to give it to him. I asked (Jackson), could everybody else on the court call timeout since I had the ball? And he said yes.” Artest paused and then smiled. “He forgot to address it with everybody,” he said. “But that’s OK.”
Jackson declined to detail what he said to Artest, preferring to keep it private. Artest said he was comfortable with his role, but noted that his feelings were irrelevant. “I listen and I take in the good, what can help me. But then I’ve also got to be like I made it this far for a reason,” said Artest, whose 3-pointer brought the Lakers within 89-86 and got the crowd on its feet. “How do I not be selfish but at the same time listen? I’m sure he didn’t want me to take that last three tonight. It’s all about playing and trying to figure out a way. We’ll be OK.”
Last season, Jackson routinely criticized Artest’s decision-making in the triangle offense, and during some heated moments during the Playoffs, he flat-out instructed his team not to pass him the ball.
It’s very early in the season, but worth noting that Ron Artest is averaging career lows in both points and minutes. On a loaded, winning team, there aren’t many opportunities for him to shoot, and when he does, the scrutiny is unrelenting.
It will be interesting to see how the player/coach relationship evolves as the season progresses, especially when things don’t go according to plan for the Lakers.