Ron Artest and the General Theory of Relativity

Kurt —  December 3, 2009

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Sometimes, how you see the universe and how everyone else sees the universe is radically different. And it can be frustrating because you need elusive proof to show the other side you are right.

Lakers fans who have watched most of the team’s games see this team — and Ron Artest — in a different way than most of the sports universe is talking about them and him right now. Today, the world sees Ron Artest the distraction as being back — did he really drink during halftime of a game? Is he going to get suspended or fined for ripping Crawford? Even in the days before this incident, several national NBA writers suggested that Ron Artest may not be working out as a Laker, that the trade for Ariza was a wash or won by Houston so far.

That is the opposite of how Lakers fans see everything.

Back in 1916, Albert Einstein (after a dozen years of work any plenty of false steps) finally published his corrected version of his General Theory of Relativity — that space and time tell matter and energy where to go, and that matter and energy tell space and time how to look. It was revolutionary. It told Newton that the apple that fell on his head may have made him a little loopy, and wrong. (If you want a more detailed explanation, ask Sheldon Cooper, PhD.)

As with the proposal of any radical idea, it was not accepted quickly (even after his public fame had made him an icon the scientific community was not convinced he was right). Einstein was right, he knew he was right. But he needed proof to convince the world that things were different than they thought. In his case, he needed photographs from a total solar eclipse to show the bending of light from stars behind the sun. And it took years to get that, time in which Einstein took shot after shot. He waited patiently until those photos of the eclipse came, and the photos of a 1919 eclipse were divided into two camps (one said he was right, another wrong). It was 1922 before photos from the viewing of an eclipse in Australia proved Einstein right to the world.

Laker fans are sort of in the same place. Based on observations this season, they have a theory that Artest is a better fit right now than Ariza, that within the triangle and on defense he is exactly what the Lakers need to win it all again. That Artest is an upgrade over Ariza. Some people nationally disagree. Some skeptics even sort of agree with this, save for the “he’s going to go nuts and blow it all” theory.

Now is the first distraction. Except this is a Laker team that deals with the spotlight of Los Angeles — this is not really a distraction. My sense from being in the locker room is that Artest fits in, he is liked, and that nobody sees what he does off the court as mattering at all. This is a team that has been to the Finals two years in a row; they understand focus on the court when the media is swirling about. Lakers fans don’t see this as a distraction, rather just a funny little story. But that’s not how the world sees it.

Like Einstein, Lakers fans need proof that their theory is right. But like Einstein, they need to wait. The proof will not come until June, and until then there really is no proof that will convince everyone. The Lakers won with Ariza, the question is can they win it with Artest.

Lakers fans know the answer. They just need to wait for the proof.

Kurt

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92 responses to Ron Artest and the General Theory of Relativity

  1. Wonderful job Kurt. Never did i think i would be reading Einstein Theory as it relates to the lakers…

    Artest is purely judged by who he “used” to be and as you rightly said he has to shake it off and anything short of the championship will be a failure to the media.

  2. Awesome post!

    It’s fairly annoying that the general media is blowing up a story surrounding events that occurred about 10 years ago.

  3. It’s still kind of early in the morning to try to wrap my mind around trying to figure out curved space and Ron Artest, but I do think, anyway, that Ron works within the Triangle in normal Euclidean geometry.

  4. Well said. The proof is coming.

  5. I just went back into the post and added a Big Bang Theory reference. This post needed one.

  6. Good post. The media won’t be convinced until the Lakers repeat, but thats just because Artest being crazy, blowing up and making the lakers lose is a better story than him fitting in on the court.

    I tried watching big bang theory once, and I didn’t find it funny at all. Maybe it was just a bad episode. And I’m all for nerd jokes being one myself.

  7. can we say mitch is einstein, ronron is the theory and the proof is the 16th ring? this is truly groundbreaking. its a great time to be a laker fan

  8. I might even argue that these types of distractions will help the team focus on the court. Lets bring a little Salk into our thinking. Artest was brought on to vaccinate against “the Disease of More”.

    And please, media come up with some real stories. When Woods getting into an accident and Artest taking some tonic shots 10 years ago are your leads, it’s just lazy reporting. No wonder corruption is the name of the political game if those are the sort of bogus news and crap analysis we get from national news agencies. At least in sports it’s pretty well meaningless.

  9. Funny–I just put a GR post a couple of days ago on my blog!

  10. Exactly, why do we care what the outside world thinks – to confirm our own worth?

    One would think we are like the beautiful city of San Francisco – gorgeous, but with a massive inferiority complex when it comes to the more ordinary, but prosperous city of Los Angeles.

  11. Hate to be the turd in your toilet, but general relativity also disproves the existence of preferential perspectives, so our perspective is no more right than anyone else’s.

  12. Zephid

    just don’t look at your turd. And preserve the probability that it really isn’t there.

  13. Speaking of turds, LBJ now says he may not do the slam dunk contest… I smell fear of the ShamWOW!

  14. More good stuff, Kurt.

    Regarding the national NBA obsession with the Ariza v Artest “swap”…who cares? At this point it’s a done deal.

    The real issue is whether or not LA has the chops to win it again. With Artest muscling out on D, the step up for Drew, and all the other components, I believe the answer to that question is quite obvious. So, I guess if that is NOT the season outcome you’re hoping for, you spotlight Artest’s eccentricities, cross your fingers and pray he will derail the freight train that is chugging steadily toward June. Not likely : )

  15. my take is that Ron gets all the attention he craves — off the court — with the Lakers. That leads to him not forcing things on the court, in order to get superstar attention there. In short, he loves L.A. and the feeling is mutual. Let the haters and doubters keep running their mouths, it will make for a fun article (here) after we win another ‘chip.

  16. Well I’m glad to see that you’ve officially become a Ron-Ron convert Kurt =)
    great post

  17. Great article and great analogy. Laker fans definitely see a different side of Ron. Pundits compare Ariza’s stats to Ron’s and say we got the short end of the stick. Don’t get me wrong, I think Ariza’s a great player. But his shooting percentages this year are way off. Ron is fitting in well so far and he’s going to get a lot better in the system. All we need is for him to provide great defense against the best player on the other team (giving Kobe a break), play within the system, and hit the outside shot. Considering he’s hitting 40% of his 3s and Ariza is hitting about 34% and how other top players have struggled when matched up with Artest, I think so far the trade has worked out well.

  18. 11- Zephid, Einstein forgot to put General Relativity into a sports context. When you do so, the guy traveling closer to the speed of light usually wins the race. Unless there are a lot of curves on the track, in which case he probably flies into a wall and causes a very large release of energy.

    I love the article, Kurt, though I don’t consider myself as one who think Artest fits better than Ariza. I think Ariza fit quite well. But Artest succeeds in his own, different, way. Its actually pretty amazing how much difference the two make in terms of styles being played.

    The difference in perspective from outside is really due to incomplete knowledge. National writers pay moe attention to the lakers than most teams, but still aren’t going to devote more than 10% of their attention to the 1 team. They check box scores, see artest isn’t scoring as much and hasd a lower PER than last year and assume it’s a disappointment.

    Whatever. Let the success of the story sneak up on them and any team that fails to gameplan for what he does bring- which is essential to how the Lakers are playing right now.

  19. cjm,
    Just this morning I was thinking the same thing. Artest has been through his career both immature and an attention hound. As mentioned in the post yesterday about maturity I think it obvious that Artest has matured much over the last few years. However, he’s still someone who likes lots of attention.
    His previous stops in the NBA have been, what, Indiana, Sactown, and Houston. Not exactly ‘wild-n-crazy’ places where attention hounds are going to get the attention they want. I wonder if part of Artest’s antics in the past (I know he behaved well in Houston), and his lack of them here have to do with what you mentioned? Artest may very well be more mellow on the court here because he can satiate his desires for attention so much more easily off the court in LA, not to also mention that he’s less likely to be critisized for them in LA, which is the land of fruits and nuts afterall! :) (I say that as someone with lots of relatives in SoCal)

  20. I think this whole thing has been a stunt. He’ll make some headlines, but nothing will change. Team will roll on.

  21. If Ronron were still in Houhou, does anyone think he’d be putting up better numbers than Ariza?

    And as a related question, isn’t comparing Ariza’s production in Houston and Ronron’s in LA an apples and oranges scenario since the systems each team runs and the expectations for each player’s role are so different.

    My take, yes and yes.

  22. All of these critics who swear Ron is going to be a distraction must have forgotten about 2000-2002. Shaquille and Kobe floated between indifference to flat out hatred of one another all the while winning three titles in a row.

    Kobe and Phil had an icy relationship. There was a divided locker room and the Los Angeles media feasted on it all taking sides. Still the Lakers were able to win championships in a conference that featured the leagues other two power teams, the Spurs and Kings.

    Los Angeles ain’t Mayberry. Phil Jackson is not Stan Van Gundy. Kobe Bryant is not Brandon Roy. And Ron Artest today is not the same guy he was five to ten years ago.

    Remember, Ron surely could have gotten more money from another team. Instead he took less and came to the Lakers. Meanwhile other players pay lip service to wanting to win, but they also want big contracts. It looks to me like Ron is smarter than they are giving him credit for.

  23. i agree with sedale. but it’s been what, 2 months into the season? 18 games – 20 percent? for all the writers passing judgement on the artest/ariza swap, here’s a question:
    would like to have been judged on your performance after 2 months on the job? let’s get real and revisit this after jan 31. dec 25 will be interesting, but Jan 31 is the real deal.
    celtics still suck!

  24. wow. I feel like those are my feelings on paper. Lamar Odom married a Kardashian….im sure he was drinking hennessy too. I’m thrilled with Ron and the Lakers as I am looking for them to only get better as the 2nd unit figures out it’s role. Thanks for a great read.

  25. Despite the fact I think both guys are too different to compare directly, in a lot of ways Ariza and Artest have replaced each other perfectly:

    Ariza has become an inefficient scorer who takes too many shots and is overrated on defense because he’s spending so much energy jacking up too many shots.

    Artest is a guy I expect nothing from each game other than energy on defense, who nonetheless contributes occasionally on offense as a bonus and hits the occasional timely 3.

    Funny how things work out sometimes…

  26. At first, I thought Artest for the Lakers was a bad fit.

    So far, it’s looking like I’m wrong.

    Couldn’t be happier!

  27. There’s only one thing I find alarming about Ron’s latest comments.

    Henry Abbott pointed out that Ron thinks he’s way better than he really is. He thinks the Lakers are effectively his supporting cast on defense. He thinks of himself as a much better player than Trevor Ariza, even though they are pretty comparable.

    Now I’m all for Ron trying to be the man on defense…but it’s a little alarming knowing that this guy is still kinda delusional about his abilities. We don’t need anymore superstars. We need hard workers that can step in and fill gaps when they are needed

  28. I still have a hard time letting Ariza go…as I always check the box scores to see how the kid is doing. That being said, Ariza’s in the right place, and so is Ron. Ariza wanted to find his place in the world, Artest knew his place in the world and has now found the right circumstances to help him achieve it.

    Ariza would never have found 17 shots a game here in LA, as it would have come primarily at the expense of our other burgeoning superstar Bynum. So I believe everyone ended up right where they’re supposed to be.

  29. cjm and SBCinAZ,
    I commented in the Maturity thread that I think one of the reasons Artest is less likely to have one of his famous Artest-outbursts with the Lakers is because nwo he lives in a city where he can finally be himself when he goes home from work.

    And a person can do that it becomes much easier to handle all the stress and aggravation at work… since you can fully relax when you leave.

    I’m of course very much hoping he’ll prove me right, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ron and his side-kicks can do against better teams than the Nets or Knicks…. :)

    Justin,
    That would worry em as well, if it wasn’t for the fact that Ron Artest is a very hard worker. For all his faults, and for all his past antics, how often have you ever heard him accused of being lazy, and of not hustling, playing hard, and giving everything he can out on the floor?

  30. 27) In many ways Ron is the defensive leader. Did you see what he did to Kevin Durant and Joe Johnson? Him being out there allows Kobe to “roam” more. Granted, I am not too crazy with Kobe doing that. But it is more effective than not.

    In watching this team so far Ron is the only player on the LA’s roster that I have seen LOCK DOWN on players. I am not talking about pestering them into bad shots. I am not talking about active hands the make guys loose handle of the ball. He does those things too. But I am talking about opposing players disappearing from the game for an entire half. I have yet to see anyone else on the roster (including Kobe) do that to an opposing player. And I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.

    Look at it this way. If Ron can keep the slashing wings from getting into the paint (which he does) then it limits the ticky tack fouls on Bynum. It also allows Kobe to keep his legs on offense.

    As Kurt pointed out in preseason the swap of Artest and Ariza has turned the Lakers into a different team. They are now (through about 20 games) one of the top defensive teams in the league. Ron’s presence has made that possible.

  31. if you want to do a fair comparison, match Artest’s numbers in LA with Ariza’s numbers when he was in LA. or Compare both sets of Houston numbers. not exact, but close enough.

    SBCinAZ: I work in ElSegundo, not too far from the laker training facility. a few months ago I saw Kareem in the parking lot of the restaurant I was leaving. Ron is just another nut on the tree, out here (and there are a lot of trees, too :) )

  32. Swedishmeatballs December 3, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Justin N.

    If being delusional about your abilities means playing with extreme confidence on defense, them I am all for it and not worried one bit. Ron is playing well and I don’t see how his suggested delusions would change that for the worse. Kobe wouldn’t be the player he is today without extreme amounts of confidence and neither would Ron; the diffrence between them is simply talent. Ron can’t be more of a superstar than he already is, and the environment (Kobe, Phil, Lamar – the team) he is in wouldn’t allow it anyway.

    Things are good!

  33. Good stuff.

    Ronron gravitated towards us (is that our black hole Bynum in action, or the black mamba, another ‘star’ that is starting to create quite a constellation around him?) and it would take a major bang to separate his focus from his body at this point.

  34. With all due respect, Artest is nothing but an upgrade over Ariza (at this early point in the season). If I recall correctly, Ariza wasn’t even starting at this time last year. He wasn’t making the other team’s best scorer just disappear like Ron has on several occassions. He wasn’t the passer that Ron is. He wasn’t the scoring threat that Ron is. he wasn’t the enforcer and down low muscle that Ron is.

    No disrespect to TA and I wish him all the best, but let’s be real here.

    Trevor Ariza fit into the complexion of the team. And very nicely, at that. He played a key role in our championship run – no doubt.

    Ron Artest changed the complexion of this team.

    We are talking about consistently blowing out inferior competition in a way we never seemed able to do before. Only one piece has changed.

    Of course, the real merits of this deal will only be seen in May and June – then we’ll know. That will be eclipse time, proof time.

  35. I actually think that there is a good chance that the real answer may not come this year. I would think that the real answer will be at the end of three years, mainly because so many things can happen. If Kobe or Pau missed any time during the playoffs, then Artest’s impact would be hard to measure against the expectations.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised to see “the national media” start to fall into two distinct camps as the season goes along, with one camp being what has been discussed – National writers who only see a handful of games through the lens of needing some fodder for an upcoming column, and the other camp being guys like Adande and Hollinger, who can be thought of as representative examples of the Laker experts and the stat geeks. These latter guys, if Artest continues along as he has, will come around to writing about how great an acquisition he ‘s been, while the former guys will continue to write whatever works best for their columns.

    That said, an actual meltdown that hurts the team on the court would make all this moot.

    And, I must say, I am a bit shocked that H. Abbott hasn’t been slammed (or even mentioned) in the context of this post.

  36. Slam Abbott? Why?

    Like Kurt say, we already know that we are right and “they” are completely wrong about Ron Artest. We’ll just wait until we have unrefutable proof, and then we’ll laugh as they humming and coughing and trying to sound as if they knew it all along. That will be a lot more fun too. :)

  37. I think the key is Artest’s respect for Kobe. It’s that respect that lets him defer to Kobe and find his place on the court. Last year he would destroy Houston when he felt like he had to be the one to take over the game, and I think part of that was that he didn’t respect anyone else on the team (or the “team” as a whole) to let them help.

    It would have been nice if he had talked a little more about the team instead of phrasing it as “Kobe is the captain on offense, I’m the captain on the defense”. (That may show up in the longer article, or even in comments that he made that weren’t included by the reporter because they aren’t interesting enough.)

    As far as the off-court activities, I think the Rodman model works well (“do what you want off the court, but make sure you show up to play”). And Jackson has the advantage (as few NBA coaches do) to stand up to Artest if he needs to.

    I’m still a little worried about what will happen to this team if they face adversity, though I’m not sure when that’s going to happen.

  38. Only thing that concerned me about the article was Artest saying he is always in the mood to fight Ben Wallace.

  39. Great post, but I have a problem with what Artest said for a reason no one has mentioned. Referees are vengeful. I know it may not all be true, but the portions of the “tell-all” Donahey book I’ve read have me convinced on this point. They held a comment to AI, what makes us think they won’t take it out on Ron-Ron. I don’t care about the story of him drinking, I’m worried about the backlash from the zebras.

    You would think someone would have told him this may come back to hurt, because while the drinking is in the past, you will be seeing the refs again tomorrow night. They look out for each other, I just don’t want to see any negative ramifications hurting our team now. I can see Kobe or Phil making this comment to him. He needs to worry about what may affect the team today.

  40. Aqzi – thanks (from the last thread) for the article links.

    Love the Big Bang Theory reference – has the current season come to an end? They showed a rerun last Monday and I was confused.

    I don’t see the problem at all with Artest’s “I’m the leader on defense” quote. He is a superstar on defense, and he’s quite right. I don’t mind that kind of thinking because that allows Artest to take 5 shots a night and still feel like he did his part, as a defense alpha dog and leader. If he feels the others are his supporting cast, that’s perfectly fine with me. He’s definitely the most aggressive defender we have, and any mindset that doesn’t require him to take 20 shots out of the triangle is fine by me.

  41. @31,

    Took the words right out of my mouth. To me the big issue is that we are comparing Artest to Ariza this year. 2 players in 2 different systems who play completly different roles (kind of like Arterst and Ariza last year). What everyone needs to do is compare Artest this year to Ariza last year.

    I checked the numbers, and Artest is basically doing better in every statistical category. Ariza may have had better PER, but that’s probably do to Rons turnovers and inexplicably poor ft shooting.

    When it comes down to who would be better for the team this year, we need to concider that Ariza is a player on the rise and wanted to be more of a focul point on a team. Artest used to be that guy and was looking for a situation where could just be a piece to help a team win. Bottom line is that in both respects Ron has out performed Trevor.

  42. Damn missed editing my post by 2 seconds – had this typed out and was ready to click:

    Lebron pansying out of the contest now is just sad. He loved how much attention Dwight was getting last year and tried to bump his way into the spotlight by announcing his entry to the entire arena at the contest. Now when push comes to shove he slowly starts backing out. Grow a pair, Lebron, or don’t try to jump into someone else’s spotlight. I’ll take some of Kobe’s fire over this pansying-of-the-sport anyday.

  43. It is clear to me that Artest was a better pick up over Ariza. You can put any althletic guy on the court with Kobe and Kobe is going to make him a better player. Artest on the other hand has been the go to guy on every team he has ever played for and has carried those teams to the playoffs almost ever year. Are the Houston Rockets going to make the Playoffs this year? Maybe?

    The point is, the current Laker roster is full of players that want to Win. Artest came here to win. Ariza wanted a big paycheck and choose to play on a team that is not going to win.

    I will take a guy that only wants to win any day over a guy that wants to make a quick buck even if he is younger and more althletic.

    Finally note, this Artest media mention is not a distraction to the Laker Lockerroom. Remember this is the lockerroom that delt with Kobe vs Shaq as well as Kobe and the Colorado girl. Arest drinking during a game 6 years ago, Who Cares!!!

  44. I know this is completely off-topic, but on the comments to Ball Don’t Lie’s surprising(?) news that Lebron is reconsidering the All-Star dunk contest, I found a link to the 2003 High-School dunk contest. I have listened to it muted since I’m at work, so if the announcers are horrible I apologize in advance, but watching it without sound is still very entertaining. Lebron goes first , of course, and our favorite super-dunk Laker goes next, so it’s very easy to compare the two. :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1yOsiWUuWI

  45. 18 (JD),
    Artest fits in better than Ariza on the court because Ariza is more of a SG who can’t defend SF’s and the Lakers already have a pretty good SG. Add in the fact that Artest works better in the triangle offense because of his dribbling and passing and that equals Artest being a better fit. Artest is also a better outside shooter.

  46. I’d like to quote Mimsy from a previous post: “…if it wasn’t for the fact that Ron Artest is a very hard worker. For all his faults, and for all his past antics, how often have you ever heard him accused of being lazy, and of not hustling, playing hard, and giving everything he can out on the floor?”

    Look, we all knew when we signed him that Ron Artest was going to talk crazy sometimes, but as long as he is playing hard, I don’t really care what he says. Now, its “It’s just Manny being Manny”, The man who brought the phrase was Rickey Henderson: “It’s just Rickey being Rickey”. I feel like it’s just RonRon being RonRon. The difference is that two of these three still played hard every day. otherwise Billy Martin wouldn’t have loved Rickie Henderson.

    I watched Artest at St. John’s, and I’ve watched him the last few years. I’ve never seen him tank a game, so I don’t really care what he says. He plays hard.

  47. 30. T Rogers, Kobe did lock down on Monta Ellis, to name one.

  48. The notion that Artest is still the same guy he was 5 to 10 years ago is a complete misunderstanding of how people in general tend to mature as they get older. Things I did in my past, I would not do today in fear of consequences of my actions. Ron has learned through experience to keep all the antics off the court and not on the court. He might slip up every now and then , but the magnitude of the transgressions are far less than in the past. A true competitor will wear his emotions on his sleaves at times, leading to a blowup on some occasions. Mimsy made a valid point in that there have been alot of things said about ol Ron in the past, but lazy and not coming to play night in and night out was not one of them. Ron will be fine in a winning enviroment like LA where he is not the savior nor the villian. If he wants to claim himself as the leader on defense in LA, his history as a good defender, warrants the promotion.

  49. What will the comparisons between Ariza and Artest be like when Yao and TMac come back and Ariza is the 3rd banana?

    Great post Kurt
    Keep this up and I’ll personally start a petition to get a gold jersey to hang up in the rafters with a laptop on it instead of a number!!

  50. +- watch revised

    ron artest #1 at .342 per minute. Kobe #2

  51. If you want to do some triangle learning today, follow this link:

    http://forums.lakersground.net/blog.php/2009/12/03/rebound-screen-cut/

  52. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1yOsiWUuWI

    There’s a pretty nice 360 by ShanWoW in a HS dunk contest vs LeBron and others.

  53. Psst, Anonymous guy… you’re twelve posts late :p

  54. @47,

    I stand corrected. But you get my point.

  55. Bill Bridges- where are you getting that stat from? Is it raw, net or adjusted?

  56. Can this Einstein guy play ball?

  57. Embarrassment of riches, $91mil or so and worth every penny, if Farmar’s claim of the bench giving starters a run for their money in practice is true.

    Not totally related, but I’m hearing less positive vibes from the team regarding Sasha; at least before it was made very clear that he was really good during practices at least, but now there isn’t much of that anymore, which worries me (in addition to a little squabbling with Lamar; not a good sign when you argue with a glue guy).

    As for Artest, he has found his spot at the right time of his career with the perfect surrounding to harmlessly vent and get attention from the media.

    It’s perfect: he gets his turn to be the focal point when the bench comes in, he is a tad bit more mature, he needs to clear his name, he has an attainable goal of a championship, and there are people just dying to get him to speak his mind.

    Add the fact that he’s playing for the winning-est coach in the league, the player he considers best, and his childhood buddy with whom he probably has a friendship that goes beyond personal gain and interests, what we got is a kettle so full of holes that it will release steam before building up enough pressure to blow.

    And, while we separate ourselves from the media, let’s stop comparing Artest and Ariza now. As said by many in the Laker organization, we are a different team now, and they play different roles.

  58. Pinky, he’s 6’4″, 6’9″ with the hair.

  59. KURT, Fletch! Thank you!

  60. Kurt, you can’t teach height (but you can teach the theory of relativity).

  61. 45- Artest is a better defender of big SFs, but I don’t recall having any discussions about the Lakers being unable to guard SFs generally last year. In fact, we did a pretty good job in that area. Point Guards were still the main concern, and when we had to, we could switch Ariza onto them and he’d (hopefully) bother them with his length and footspeed. He also gave us a more electric full court game. I still say its a game of give and take. Both fulfill(ed) their roles on the team very well.

  62. let’s go back to game#6, shall we? instead of TA (admittedly not at full health) we had RA in there. same or different result? with RA in there, that crap hound Pierce never gets out of the wheel chair. that’s the situation that Ron is meant to address.

  63. cjm, remember that not only was Ariza not 100%, there was no Bynum and his 7’6″ wingspan protecting the paint either. There were a few factors.

    And I’m far from convinced the Celtics will be in the Finals this year.

  64. Kurt,

    Watching the Spurs/C’s game right now. What are the big factors working against C’s you think?

    Allen’s shot seems to have deserted him so far this year. KG, I’m withholding judgment until he gets more games under his belt. But it sure seems like they’re depending on him to hit that 18 footer and he’s not coming through. The form looks off and it seems like he’s also drifting out further to 19-20 feet more when taking it and making it harder. Just seems farther and more of a struggle compared to past years.

    I liked the Marquis acquisition for them and I guess Shelden has been decent. Sheed’s 3 point shooting has been well discussed and documented.

    I’ve watched a handful of games and the biggest thing that jumps out is they don’t seem to have the same kind of intensity and unified flow on D like past years. But they’re still not a high scoring team and throw in Ray’s shooting woes along with KG’s rust and Sheed not going into the post, it’s not getting better easier. Without the defensive ferocity, it’s harder for them to beat teams, it seems like. They’re still doing it, but it looks like a lot more effort. But I haven’t looked at minutes in a while, early in the year, the starters weren’t being burned out with heavy minutes.

    Still it’s a long season. Not that I hate winning, but I always worry a bit when the team I root for goes off to a white hot start and everything clicks too easily. It’s hard to maintain the intensity and you hope they continue to build for the ultimate payoff. I hope Lakers continue to strive for that perfection.

  65. J, as you said the defense is not as good and their offense is not great to me (you can defend it, Rondo is the hardest one to defend really). They’re a good team, but like the Cavs I’m not blown away. If their defense comes around, maybe, but I’m not sure KG is the same guy. With their age, do they get better as the year goes on?

    Also, there’s that whole getting by Orlando thing I think will be hard for them.

  66. Anyone else watching tomorrow’s opponent?

  67. I’m watching the Oregon-Oregon State game on ESPN… I’ll watch tomorrow’s opponent tomorrow since I don’t care about them as much as I care about how the Lakers play against them. :)

  68. Mimsy, I’m flipping back and forth.

  69. Problem with the Celtics is that Ray’s shot can come back at any moment, and it came back in the Finals against us, as can everyone else’s.

    But, like mentioned numerous times, we were lacking Bynum, we had JUST gotten Gasol who had JUST gotten used to playing center in a new system, and we didn’t have much of a bench, and still it came to 6 games.

    And despite the big blowout, we almost overcame a 18+ point deficit, and had them down by 20+ points… that’s two games that could have gone our way.

    Maybe it’s winning it all last year, but so far, none of the other contenders are better than they are on paper, other than, us. We’re close to matching our potential on paper, and the only reason we haven’t is because our bench has regressed.

  70. I’m not even considering flipping between channels, since my school’s season is affected by the Oregon civil war. The Lakers will not get my undivided attention until college football season is over. A side-effect of graduating from a non-BCS school. :)

  71. This post reminds me of one of my favorite Gary Larson quotes: “Unbeknownst to most historians, Einstein started down the road of professional basketball before an ankle injury diverted him to science.”

    If only I can find the cartoon of that online. :)

  72. Wow this is an amazing quote from Roy that reveals a lot about his outlook. I sometimes think the things said about Henry Abbott go overboard, but this is a huge story that I haven’t seen on TH at all – unless I just missed the story, HA’s glossing over a huge NBA story when he normally covers tiny things from all teams.

    ”I feel like we tried it (the three-guard lineup), and you could say it worked at times, but me sacrificing hurt the team, so it should get back to me playing full-out and getting some other guys in other areas to sacrifice a little bit,” Roy said.

    This other quote may have some seeds of truth, but it doesn’t read well for Roy: “This team is going to go off my pulse,” Roy said. “Even if I’m smiling and trying to make it work, if I seem like I’m not totally comfortable, then Martell won’t be. And Rudy will look like he’s in a funk. And L.A. will look like he’s in a funk.”

  73. I forgot Dorrell Wright was still in the league. Talk about a waste of natural talent/athleticism. I remember Miami had huge hopes for him, they could have traded him for good value years ago but held on, thinking he would develop (ala Bynum). Didn’t happen.

  74. Denver are giving Miami a clubbing. At this point it looks like their starters will be well-rested for tomorrow’s game.

    Beasley is a gifted offensive player, but doesn’t play with passion. He’s like a young Carmelo Anthony.

  75. Sorry for the double-post.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=aw-tradebuzz120309&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

    Wojnarowski mentions Kupchak is looking to shed salary.

    Does anyone know of a site which lists team assets, esp. their current traded player exceptions?

  76. I must admit that I was definately not a high ho supporter of Artest (keep in mind I am currently 16) I thought he was good for nothing and a punk after he went into the stands and fought a fan. Then when they got Artest I decided to take a look back at the game on youtube. once I saw the guy threw the beer at him I had the utmost respect for him because I’m sure I would have done the same thing. Everybody is looking for a way to make Artest blow up and turn it into a story, if they can’t find one they make up a story and cause problems. I think the real stories should be how Artest deals with all this criticism and publicity that would normally throw a guy off his game and instead he only plays better as the shots come.

  77. Remember that Kobe posed as Einstein in a viral marketing video for Nike. There’s something deep underneath this comparison, Kurt, some real theoretical stuff.

  78. This is a really great post Kurt, just what the Doctor ordered about now. Wow, 77 comments to get here, finally. Everybody has contributed some very good stuff so far. Yeah, Artest never takes a night off and is always hustling on every play it seems. Like you said though, we have to prove it to everybody else in the world, that this was a great move to improve the team. There is no question in my mind, this was THE move to make for this Lakers team this year. It is not even debateable anymore, what he brings on defense and intensity to our squad. Off the court or in his past, who cares, especially here in LA. People will see what he brings when we play the Cavs and Celtics coming up, the lockdown of certain SF players will occur.

    You know something Kurt? You just seem to be making your posts more entertaining as the year progresses, what are we in for later on…

  79. 75- If Al Harrington is moved, I think it has to be to the Pacers. I’m not sure but i think league rules mandate him to be on their roster at least every other season.

    On a completely different note, thank God for local boy J. A. Adande. He knows what’s up:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/columns/story?columnist=adande_ja&page=artest-091203

  80. re Boston:

    It always bugged me that the prevailing “wisdom” was that the Lakers lost that series because the big men were “soft.” The true reason was that Boston was always going to be a poor matchup for us, as they were during the 2007-08 regular season. Simply put, their most important offensive player (Pierce) had to be guarded by our two worst individual defenders (Walton and Vlad). Trevor was out too long with that broken foot to be a factor. This meant that the Lakers were always scrambling on defense to cover up for Pierce’s man. None of the Eastern teams that gave Boston trouble in those playoffs had such weak individual defenders guarding Pierce.

    If Boston somehow manages to make it out of the East, I think we can safely say that the Pierce matchup will not be a problem this time.

  81. Pierce matchup will be gone but Rondo vs our PG is still there then again we can always clog the lane and dare him to shoot three.

  82. 82. I imagine that Phil would put Kobe on Rondo again and have Fish guard Allen, just like last season and Games 3 through 6 in the Finals.

  83. 61) J.D. Hastings,
    Guarding SF’s was a huge problem for us last year. In fact a couple days after the victory parade I heard a radio interview with Kurt Rambis on 570′s PMS show where Kurt said… “We spoke to Trevor (Ariza) about working on his one on one defense because we had to provide too much help on SF’s last season. But most of that is him needing to add strength so he can better guard that position.”

    It is true that PG was also a problem spot with us last year… but it i easier to use help defense on PG’s because they are so small… when SF’s got into the lane against us it causes more problems. You wont see Chris Paul do this to Gasol and Odom in the playoffs…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h33lynpCaeM

  84. … here is the live clip of that dunk where you can hear color man Doug Collins say…. “this is the match up that you have to worry about if you are the Lakers (Artest vs. Ariza)” as Artest blows by Ariza for the dunk over Odom and Gasol.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvlK-kU72CE

  85. There is no way in the world that anyone with half a brain would say that the Lakers would have been better with Ariza this year than they are with Artest. I’m not sure what anyone else is watching, but have you seen those Lakers lately? Since Pau has come back the team looks quite unbeatable. I’m looking forward to a game in Denver, Boston or Orlando to truly measure what the Lakers are capable of.

    Last year i thought the lakers were superior to the other teams, but they still looked shaky. They did not have that tough defensive presence. This year the gap between the other teams and the lakers has WIDENED and the other teams have gotten better. Which means that the lakers have REALLY gotten better.

    Of course the health and beasthood of Bynum has a great deal to do with it. Hey, where are all those shmucks who said the Bynum extension was a disaster? Gone i see, lol. But back to the point at hand, even though Bynum is much better this year, the addition of Artest is truly great.

    I’ve said this before and i will say it again. Artest is the BEST perimeter defender i have seen play basketball since Scottie Pippen. That’s why i was such a big fan of the pickup over the offseason. His defense is truly suffocating. It is relentless. His strength and quick hands, not to mention pride in D, allows him to be an enforcer on the court. This raises the confidence level of all the other players.

    Bynum and Pau are looking like the twin towers (Dikembe Mutumbo and Alonzo Mourning on Georgetown, back when i used to watch college b-ball) –how did they get so good at playing D? Artest’s pride on the defensive end is infectious and it’s spreading like the Spanish flu.

  86. Kaveh,

    I think that most people were pretty satisfied with the outcome of the Bynum negotiations; it was the tactics employed by his agent (he who shall forever live in Ariz-infamy) that bothered most of us. That said, at the time, the Bynum contract was a bit inflated, and if Bynum was negotiating when Odom was negotiating, you could bet money that 10 million woulda shaved off of the total contract. That said, the investment seems to have paid off. Now, just stay healthy big guy!

  87. did you ever think you’d watch a VRad highlight film?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egQCl3PVbNQ

  88. I’m not convinced Boston makes it back to the finals either, but if they do I think the Lakers match up much better against them than they did 2 years ago. Artest is a much better defender than Rad and Walton and is much stronger so he can handle the strength of Pierce. Actually I think the only SF in the league that can cause problems for Artest in the strength department is Melo and this is because he is such a good post player (when Lebron gets better at a post game and learns a mid-range turnaround he will be even better).

    Unless Allen and Sheed get really hot from the outside I think Boston will have a hard time getting out of the east and beating the Lakers if they meet if they meet in the finals. I think it will be a rematch of last years finals. I think Orlando is the deepest team in the league 1-12 and has a large margin of error second only to the Lakers.

  89. Just for fun this morning, a new post up with a James Worthy retrospective. The Heat Preview will be up this afternoon.

  90. @Mike, 87, Glad you posted that Vlad-Rad highlight clip, who would have ever thought that possible, huh. Good to see though, I want our guys to do good in this league after all is said and done, especially since we got ShanWOW out of that deal, right?

  91. There is no question that Artest is better for the Lakers than Ariza -was- (… for the regular season, I don’t know if Ron Ron can match Ariza’s playoff performance but anything close will be golden for us), but it’s entirely debatable if he’s better for this season and particularly for future seasons

    But that’s not something I care to think about too much because what’s done is done.

  92. Bill Bridges (10:50 a.m.): You’re thinking of quantum mechanics, not general relativity. Get your crazy sports/physics metaphors straight (or curved)! :)