That Ron Artest would take offense to Phil Jackson’s motivational methods is not surprising. PJ’s public criticisms have long been a tool he’s used to tweak all of his top talent. But not everyone is as receptive to his tactics.
Still, there is nothing new under the sun that a player would confront Phil. What is shocking is how this story came to light.
As Bill Plaschke details, the honeymoon is over for Artest. While he’s since apologized to the team for his reaction to Phil, Ron’s problems run much deeper. He’s got a mole in his locker room and Artest isn’t happy about it.
“I’ve worked too hard to have something like this come out. My image is very important to me — whatever image I have left — and this hurts, this really hurts.”
“I’ve tried so hard not to be part of any controversy, not to be part of any conflict, for this to come out now, that’s weird, and it’s really hard.”
Drama aside, this is a bad sign amid all the on-court issues the Lakers are enduring. Either some of his teammates have grown tired of Ron Ron or they’re simply feeding the beast in hopes of gaining some odd form of notoriety. Whatever the case, this is the last thing the Lake Show needs right about now.
If there was ever a coach capable of making this entire situation into something positive, it’s Jackson. He’s spent his years in the NBA dealing with some of the most galvanizing personalities in the history of the game. He’s built his reputation on getting players that otherwise wouldn’t coexist to come together in the name of the greater good.
Now, Phil’s got to dig deep and get this situation under control. He just has to be careful how he goes about his business. Phil has clearly mishandled Artest with his public criticisms.
“In Ron’s defense, I’ve been trying to motivate him through a variety of activity, starting from the very beginning, talking about his activity level and his sometimes bizarre behavior. He wants it to be in private. I just said, ‘Don’t act it out in public, then we can keep it private’ for both to have that happen in practice.”
If this has already been dealt with internally, we’ll hopefully never know. Some things are meant to be kept behind closed doors even in an age of mega media. By letting the world know of the Jackson-Artest rift, one individual has created a perceived team-wide problem.
But hey, it wouldn’t be Los Angeles without drama. This is not the end of the world but it’s definitely the end of Ron’s carefree approach. From here out it’s got to be all business for the sake of public perception alone. For now, PJ’s got to do some serious damage control. His locker room has sprung a leak and it needs to be sealed immediately.