On Ron Artest’s Exit Interview

Phillip Barnett —  May 24, 2012

Of the exit interviews I watched yesterday, I felt Ron’s was the most intriguing. It definitely wasn’t necessarily the most profound or the most eloquent of the interviews, but it may have been the most eye-opening and showed his ever-growing maturity as a man, basketball player and teammate. When I watched Ron’s interview, I saw a guy who has the ultimate confidence in his teammates, a guy who understands what a weird season this was, and a guy who was willing to take accountability for the Lakers inability to get over the hump in this year’s post season. Ron has come a long way from his younger years in the league, and his 20+ minute interview really highlighted who he is and the genuine care he has for his coaching staff, teammates and organization.

During the interview, there were a few segments that really stood out to me. One was on the fact that Mike Brown put the Lakers in a position to win this series against Oklahoma City, and the Lakers weren’t able to make the plays down the stretch during a couple of key games to pull it off.

“Mike wasn’t out there guarding Kevin, it was me, Kevin scored on me. Mike didn’t throw turnovers at the end of the game. Mike didn’t miss three-point shots, I missed three point shots. Mike didn’t come in out of shape — well he did come in out of shape (laughs). But it’s all mental for coach, it was the players.”

A lot has been said about Mike Brown this season. He was given a raw deal by Lakers fans before the Lakers even began training camp. After two pre-season games, folks were asking for him to be fired and after this post season, there were questions about whether or not Brown should be on the hot seat. These ideologies are generally ridiculous, especially considering the way this season began, the shortened training camp, the loss of Lamar Odom and eventually the loss of Derek Fisher. The Lakers were inconsistent on the floor this year, no doubt, but the circumstances in which Brown was dealt were equally as inconsistent. However, despite the slow start, the change in both offensive and defensive philosophies, the changes in personnel, this Mike Brown led basketball team was in position to win two playoff basketball games in which they’d ultimately go on to lose do to turnovers down the stretch. I often grew frustrated with Brown’s ability to make adjustments on the fly, he never really figured out his rotations this season and his offense unsuccessfully tried to gain steam more than once this season — but Brown had to learn the intricacies of this team on the fly just as this team had to adjust from Phil’s style of coaching to his with a shortened, condensed season with a nine-day training camp. This season, the odds were against Brown’s success before we even knew if there would be a season at all. Ron understood that and realized that this team had to take accountability for their play down the stretch of those two depressing losses that could have had the Lakers up 3-2 with a close out game in Staples. They had a 7-point fourth quarter lead in one game and a 13-point fourth quarter lead in another, and Brown deserves some credit for that considering most pundits felt the Lakers didn’t have a chance to beat this Thunder team.

More Ron:

“I think at the end of the game, guys gotta trust themselves more,” said MWP. “I think sometimes, not myself, but sometimes guys, they look to Kobe too much. I think they gotta understand Mitch (Kupchak) brought you here. Mitch also assembled teams that won championships, so he knows what he’s doing. And he brought you here for a reason. Because you’re good. So believe in yourself[…]

“You’re playing with a great player. Five championships. I don’t know how many people can say they got five championships in any sport. So no matter who the player is, you come to this team, you will look at Kobe as one of the greatest players ever. You know? But playing with Kobe for a long time, I understand I gotta chip in. I must chip in. So I think the young guys, not the older guys, a lot of young guys went through it this year. And I think coming back next year, they just have to understand, we gotta chip in.”

For those who didn’t get the opportunity to watch Ron’s exit interview, I think it’s important to note that he really emphasized how much he believes in the younger guys and how much he thinks the organization believes in the younger guys as well. He spoke a lot about self confidence and the the ability to chip in more often with said confidence. He talked a lot about Ramon Sessions who he said was a very good point guard and Devin Ebanks who he felt played great in limited, inconsistent minutes. I think the same applies to Jordan Hill should he come back. The operative word here is genuine, as there was no point where it felt like Ron’s answers were scripted (have they ever?) or that what he was saying wasn’t heart felt. He honestly believes that when the younger guys get over the fact that they’re playing with one of the greatest players ever (Kobe), that they’ll be able to “chip in” during the times when the Lakers need it most. I do find some truth to these sentiments, as Sessions, Ebanks, and Hill have all had some very good moments against some very good basketball teams when they’re playing with their head in the game instead of playing with their minds on Kobe. This must be reciprocal, of course, because nothing is harder than trying to play with out watching Kobe when Kobe is dominating the ball — but even in those games Sessions has looked off Kobe to penetrate or to dump it into Bynum/Pau for easy buckets; Ebanks has slashed off the ball and made tremendous defensive and hustle plays; and Jordan Hill was a monster on the boards for about 70 percent of the games he actually got real playing time with the Lakers. Ron has seen the positive in the younger role players (and even Steve Blake, who is a bit older, but is in a similar caste in the Lakers system), and chose to focus on those positives in hopes that they shine a bit more next season. This is admirable after a tough season.

The last Ron quote follows:

“The Lakers, they did a lot for me so I like it here,” smiled Metta “I like it here. But whatever is best for the Lakers. If it’s me not being here, if it’s good for the Lakers, it’s good for me because the Lakers, they did nothing but great things for me. I got a championship here, something I always wanted. And then being here is great also. I’ve liked it. I’d definitely would like to be here. I don’t really talk about myself. I always talk about what could make the team better. Whatever is in the best interest of the Lakers, that’s what’s important to me.”

You don’t hear these kind of sentiments from a guy who loves the position he’s in, but Ron is a different kind of fellow (understatement), and again, I felt that he was truly genuine when he said that he wanted whatever was best for the organization. It’s not a secret that the Lakers are going to try and cut down on salary for the upcoming season, and Ron could easily be one of the guys that ends up at Staples as a visitor at some point next season — and I’m sure he’s fully aware of that fact. There’s a certain level of respect I have for people who put others above their own well-being, and this is just another example of Ron doing just that. He hasn’t been perfect this year (the elbow to James Harden, intentional or not, brought back glimpses of “Indiana Ron), but if nothing else, he cares about his coach, his teammates and this Lakers organization even if one, or all three, don’t have his general well-being in mind. I personally would love to see Ron stay in the Forum Blue and Gold and get acknowledged for his contributions on the defensive end of the floor next season, fully aware of how much his contract is worth. I believe his maturity will being an element to this Lakers organization that’s just as valuable off the court than it can potentially be on the court if we can see him healthy for a full season again. With every risk, the reward isn’t always promised, but with Ron, I think we won’t only be rewarded by his presence as fans, but the coaching staff, his teammates and the whole Lakers organization will be rewarded with is knowledge of the game, the fire he’ll light under the younger guys and his dedication to being the best Lakers he can be on and off the court.

Phillip Barnett

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41 responses to On Ron Artest’s Exit Interview

  1. I would like to see Ron back next year. But I think the 2nd unit would be a better fit for him. He proved that in shape and finally health he still can bring a lot to the table. And unlike many aging stars I don’t think he has a problem coming off the bench.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I’d love to see him back.

  3. “Earnest intent” is the term that comes to mind when I think about Artest.

    The man is very transparent about all of the work that he has done, both with his head and his body to get to where he is, and he has never lost sight of where he came from.

    He just comes across as a guy who wants to realize the opportunity that he has in front of him, without any baggage of implied expectations.

    I hope he’s back as well, as once he got back in shape, the Lakers were a much better team with him. He brought a certain gravitas that this version of the Lakers (post-DFish) is sorely lacking, beyond Kobe.

  4. I want Metta to train with US Olympic track team and learn how to run faster, jump higher in order to extend his playing days in NBA. He should go on body conditioning in summer not in fall.

    I want Ron Artest to be given another job as Asst. Coach on Defense. He should teammates to steal the ball with his left hand.

  5. MWP basically has a lifetime hall pass with me because of Game 7.

  6. Once he played his way into shape, MWP was worth the bad shooting nights. His fire and hustle are absolutely worth it in the playoffs on a team that generally lacks these qualities. You don’t trade him just for the sake of dumping him. Unless you can bring in a better wing defender (few and far between), you keep him.

  7. It’s a shame PJ could not get better use out of mwp. He is one of the strongest and most feared guys in the nba. There would have to be a really good reason to leave him off the roster. He just muscles his way in the lane and kills people in the post, and he is strong enough to hoist 3’s without using his legs. And a monster defender. I think he takes games off, but he’s there when it counts. Love me some ron-ron!

  8. That exit interview is part of why Artest has been my favorite player since he arrived in LA. And now that he is actually once again a dominant two way player I doubt even Darius Morris can take over that spot in my heart.

  9. It was just reported that Kobe made 1st all NBA and Andrew made 2nd team. But guys want amenisty Kobe and trade Bynum? Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

  10. Ron’s a great guy and a great defender. Very likeable and seems to have taken over Odom’s role in the locker room. Great for the rooks and keeps it real. But Durant did shoot 50% this series and was schooling Ron in open court. Lakers are looking up at Thunder and Ron 1 year older and Durant getting better next year the same thing will happen. He did what he said he would help Lakers win a ring.

  11. You are drinking too much Laker management Kool-Aid. Brown was not highly regarded as a candidate and did nothing to disprove the doubters. Just as in Cleveland, the in-game coaching was stagnant and adjustments were few. Instead of complaining about the lack of training camp, consider that Kobe was remarkably healthy this season as was Bynum. Do you really think Phil wouldn’t have squeezed more out of this team?

  12. Baylor

    I’m going to say Brown was brilliant because he wasnt. But he had to put a new system in with no training camp and very little practice time. Add in that he to integrate 7 new player over the season(half the roster) I’m cutting him some slack.

  13. Kobe Alert: KB was named 1st team All NBA for the 7th straight year. It was his 10th 1st team selection which ties him with MJ et al for 2nd all time behind only K Malone (11). This was Kobe’s 14th overall, All NBA selection, which is tied for 2nd with K Malone + Shaq, and trailing only Kareem with 15.

    He is now 2nd all time in overall All Defensive Slections; First in 1st Team Defensive Selections; 2nd in overall NBA selections; and 2nd in 1st Team NBA Selections. He was by far the top vote getter this year in the All NBA selection amongst guards. This guy is good.

  14. I don’t know why it is that I can’t extend the same blanket of support to Bynum despite the fact that he is no more flawed than everyone else on this team.

    Maybe it’s because I don’t see that genuine desire to be a Laker that everyone else has shown (the only other Laker who didn’t really show that was Jordan Farmar for me, but that’s probably because he wanted to start more than anything)… but I just hope something or somebody sets him straight.

  15. Which Ron do you guys want back?

    The one who shot shot 33% the first 50 games?

    The one who may have cost the Lakers the season with his bonehead 7 game suspension?

    The one who played well for 14 games but still shot under 35% for the playoffs.

    Please look at the whole picture. It’s like a gambler who only tells you about his wins!

  16. I would love it if the Laker organization decided to keep MWP. While he was not quite consistent for most of the season, though he did come strong near the end, I never questioned his effort and hustle. He always put 100% of his heart into the game.

    Regarding Mike Brown, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for one more season, but his performance was what I somewhat expected and I felt it really hurt the team during the playoffs. I feel that it’s a little unfair to completely judge him now, but I still have some reservations and concerns regarding his coaching.

  17. ron’s picking up where fish left off. new good cop to kobe’s bad cop. good to hear.

  18. When looking at who to keep and who not to keep – it is important to think of what we could get, for the out going player. In most cases – the answer is – not much. Last year we had 2 marketable players, and I implored the FO to deal them in a blockbuster. We now have 1 marketable player. Pau will no longer fetch an all star player. He could be traded for picks and youngsters, but that will probably not make us better in the short run. So that leaves Drew. We should only trade Drew for a superstar (D12, DW, list gets short after that). So if we can’t get that done (will be tough), and we can’t get an All Star player for Pau (nearly impossible), and we can’t do anything with KB of course, well then we are stuck (and we are stuck in “6th”). Just like 2012. We will use our MLE and “possibly” our TPE to get a youngster, journeyman, or problem child. However we do not have Pop or Doc or an organization that allows for the development of such players. We are the Lakers. We sign big name players by making Earth shattering deals.

    That is unless they are Vetoed of course : )

  19. Robert: your spot on. I would add the Ron, Blake, McRoberts, Walton deals hurt the most. They are overpaid. To me to give Bynum a team option but all players over 30 gurantees was silly. I could see a deal for Pau being beneficiary but I can’t put it on here.

  20. Robert, I heard a prolonged interview with NBA HofF player, and former NBA GM Chris Mullin. He said that GMs all know how valuable Pau is and that he would still fetch plenty in a deal. Not saying that the Lakers should or should not trade him, just saying I think your view, and the reactionary views of the common fan, are not in line with what front offices think of him. If you look at the sort of players that have been credibly floated just recently you will see players in line with team needs and provide value. Keep in mind, part of what the Lakers need to do is find some value while cutting costs.

    MWP is not overpaid in the least. Guy makes $8 mil a year. This is in line with players such as- Bargnani, S. Jackson, Richard Jefferson, David West, LO, John Salmons, Jameer Nelson, Scola, Milsap, Przybilla…. I don’t think anyone in this list is clearly better the Ron and quite a few are giving less value for the money.

    Finally, players are going to be guaranteed money after 30. All players get guaranteed contracts. Its in the rules. Look at the best teams of the last few season and all but the Thunder had players with contracts well into their 30s, be it MIA, SAS, DAL, BOS, ORL etc… Teams most hurt by these long contracts have actually been teams that spent money on young fellas like PDX, MIL and even the Clips. Not only do I not see how u can compete for long without signing players over 30 but I don’t see the sense in it. This is sports. Guys get injured.

  21. PAmi: Players get guarantees but teams get outs in these deals. Hill and Sessions deals each have outs. To be on the safe side you try and protect yourself as best you can. Kobe’s salary isn’t ideal but it doesn’t hurt more than Blake, McRoberts, Ron, Sessions taking up 17 mil in space. Walton’s contract hampered Lakers for years same will happen with Ron. And only 2 players are worth the price you named Milsap and West. Gone are the days Lakers covering mistakes with money. Smarter decisions have to made from here on out.

  22. If we are talking about competing and winning championships then MWP needs to be with the team. His defense, His strength, his ability to cover 4 positions defensively, hit the 3, not afraid to take a shot, posting up, all are important in the playoffs. veterans use the season to get into shape. Forget abotu stats, pers, metrics, use your eyes, MWP brought it in the playoffs. Also and this is huge, Kobe said he was the ONLY one he can depend on. I rest my case.

  23. Brown did not get a raw deal. His 4 million a year comes with instant negative criticism as it should. He had a lot to prove coming in and still does.

    I wouldn’t expect them to use the amnesty on Metta. Once he got in shape his confidence shot up again until he pulled elbow. I believe he’ll be more cognizant of his control issues from here forward. He’ll be out the league soon and if he wants anymore glory he can’t make another bonehead maneuver.

  24. Dom: To be fair looking at the numbers he did his job on offense (10-25 from 3). But your touting him for his defense and we continually saw Durant torch him game after game. So it’s a tricky situation.

  25. P.Ami: I hope you are correct. I also am not professing to state exactly who should stay or go, however I know we can’t repeat what we did this year, which is futz around with minor change when it is major change that is required.
    All: If we go into next year with a roster like this: KB, AB, Pau, MWP, RS, a new journeymen (someone like another RS), and a new problem child (think someone like Gilbert Arenas): Then don’t expect me to agree with any pre-season posts that end with: “We will be fine – Let them play the games” – come to think of it – I didn’t agree with those this year either : )

  26. Great post Phillip.

    I love Ron, and hope to see him back. Once healthy, he again became an elite defender and regained his offensive capabilities. His contract, in my opinion, is actually closer to fair than not (well, at least under the old CBA it was).

    P.S.

    Whoever mentioned Durant’s 50% shooting in the series – what other wing player in the league could do a better job containing the league’s best scorer? Maybe LeBron, and that’s where the list ends. This wasn’t a case of Ron playing poor D, but rather a showcase of KD’s offensive brilliance. Great O will always beat great D.

  27. Darius – you run an awesome blog for Laker fans and B-ball in general. But man, it is time to give yourself an off-season and get away from it all. Your lengthy analysis of Metta World Peace – Ron Ron exit interview was way too long to wade through and not that great a subject matter. Lakers are in a bind — what do you think we need to do if you had two deals to make? Pau, Bynum, for Howard … Smith of the ATL? Magic suggested it. And/or how do we get a real point guard? Sessions really dropped his production when it mattered most, (proving C-Town knew what it was doing when they traded him), and Blake is kind of wimpy overall. Somehow, when he took that last shot in OKC, I knew it wouldn’t go in. Guys like Blake never make the game-winner in a playoff game.

  28. Avidon: Discussing his value and I was very complimentary of Ron. He kept his word and helped win a title for Lakers. And has been Lakers best wing defender since he was signed. But that’s his calling card his defense and if he can’t stop Durant from shooting 50% in a 7 game series what value does he bring. Ron was great at denying him the ball but didn’t have the quicks to keep up in space. Quick defenders like Marion do a better job on Durant evident by round one. Great guy his name is bigger than his game now.

  29. MWP is an awesome defender. One thing a defender needs to do is make the person he’s defending work for their points. MWP did that.

    Let’s not take away the fact that MWP lost his timing on offense and defense during his suspension. Don’t forget how well he played Durant when the Lakers beat OKC at the end of the regular season.

    MWP needs to be retained by the Lakers. As the team is currently constituted he and Kobe are the only players capable of locking down during important stretches of the game.

  30. #27. I thought Phillip did a great job here. And, Ron’s always an interesting person to look at, from my perspective. As an aside, if you listened to the other exit interviews – especially from the young players – Ron’s well respected on this team and his growth within it and his future on it are certainly topics to discuss. That said, if you don’t like the topic, skip it. No one is forcing you to read. As an aside, it’s easier to take criticism more seriously when the person doing the criticizing actually knows who wrote the post.

  31. Chearn: “Let’s not take away the fact that MWP lost his timing on offense and defense during his suspension.”

    ———————————–

    Not to beat this to death or anything, but let’s also remember why he got suspended. He didn’t get suspended for something you or I did or Kevin Durant did. And maybe it did throw off his timing. Who has to own that? MWP seems willing to own it, based on his comments above. Let’s allow him to do so and not make excuses for the guy.

  32. Beautiful words by Artest…all nice and good. But those words coming from another player might sound like an excuse for poor playing (ex: “I love the Lakers, I wanna stay, even tho I hit 23% of my FG, hehe…” no-name), but not Ron.

    Those words are coming from a guy that actually contribute to the team big! His D is just superb but this season, he found his O, going into the paint like a center for a layup…that was awesome.

    That said, MWP is a KEEPER.

    Nice what he said about MB, I agree…the players didn’t deliver down the strech, bla, bla…But I have my way to judge the coach and MB, IMHO, failed. Lack of time? No training camp? Ok…but no Lakers “heart”. Not his fault, he’s just not a Laker, like if we have Byron Scott as a coach, capisce?

  33. Changes have to be made.

    Rationalizing all the Lakers deficiencies is what 2nd round playoff teams do.
    If only we would’ve hit that shot
    If only we would’ve gotten to that loose ball.
    If only we would’ve gotten that stop.

    We USED to be the team that hit the shot, got the loose ball and made that defensive stop.
    That was the Kobe and the Lakers.
    Now it’s the younger, more athletic and hungrier teams like the Thunder that make their own breaks.

    If the Lakers don’t get younger and quicker, they will get stuck in second round purgatory.

  34. We just need to start developing players or pick up players like Trevor.

    But hey this season is promising, Ebank being able to do what he does both defensively and as an off ball players.

    Goubelock have the mentality to be a good energy player like nate, though i rather they just get a normal size SG…

    Morris is well Morris, show promise but doesn’t have the shooting touch and with the pack roster probably will get cut.

    and HIll: I don’t have to explain haha.

    One issue we have though is getting a young SF/SG kind of player that can shoot or play elite defense.

    Or even trade for Iman Shumpert he is a beast defensively…

  35. As fans we first need to truly know what kind of system the Lakers are trying to run. After a 66 games regular season and 11 playoff games I’m still not sure.

    What was great about the Triangle is the Lakers had an identity. The coaching staff had a previously successful model (90’s Bulls) to emulate. One of the reasons the Lakers could pull journeymen like Shannon Brown and Trevor Ariza in and make them look good was because they knew exactly what kinds of players they needed. They knew what to look for in players because they knew what kind of system they were running. So it wasn’t so much a matter of how good a player looked on another team. It was more about that player’s skill set.

    Gasol is a perfect counter example to this. One big reason his effectiveness diminished this season is because the offensive system Brown runs does not take advantage of Pau’s best qualities. On another team in a more complementary system Pau can get his mojo back. Its not just about getting rid of player X and bringing in player Y. They need to actually fit in a well defined scheme.

    This is where Mike Brown makes me nervous. I don’t really see a well defined scheme, at least not offensively.

  36. Kevin, Durant torches everyone at least MWP makes him work and more over takes some responsibility for his performance and gives a damn. If Drew had his attitude and tried as hard we might still be playing. In defense of Pau, his role was not only changed but not having training camp practice did not help. Too many GM’s and people who know basketball are waiting for the Lakers to dump him for nothing. The NBA is turning Euro, we were getting a huge haul in the original trade for CP3 lets not forget that Pau was one of the main reasons why. Yes he is a finesse player, no he cant hold his position on the block (neither can Durant) but he is an amazingly skilled big who knows his strengths and weaknesses and he at least showed up for the final game, unlike the “so called best center in the NBA who shall remain nameless”

  37. I thought that Ron was once again a very formidable player once he got in shape and overcame the injuries he’d been battling for the past season and a half. Right before the Elbow, he threw down a fierce dunk that signalled that he was still a serious force. The suspension robbed him of the chance to build on that. By the time he came back after the 7 games, he had lost momentum and had some rust on his game.

    I think he is still a valuable piece of the Lakers’ puzzle and has value as a leader and as someone who is unafraid to play with Kobe. He’s still an elite defender as well.

  38. Lakers are 3-4 without Ron last 2 postseasons. 6-9 with Ron playing.

  39. Kevin, you do realize that the out that is in Sessions’ deal is a player option, not a team option? That is not an out for the team, but one for the player.

    Also, I provided a list of players who make $8 mil (and there were plenty more in that vicinity of similar quality) and you can only pick out 2 you deem worthy of that money. That is your right to suggest, but the NBA market, with it’s combination of competent and incompetent managers, seems to put a higher value on certain players then you have. The fact that these players are making what they make defines the monetary value of players of that caliber. We who hang around these sports blog, buzzing like flies and attracted to the stink of dissatisfying ends to the season, we don’t define the NBA market. I might suggest another way to look at players such as Milsap and West may just be underpaid.

  40. P.Ami: the team decided that would be best for both parties. The thing is a opt out was put in his contract. Ron has player options, Blake was full4 guaranteed no options. All I’m saying is Lakers wouldn’t be in such a tough spot if Ron, Blake, McRoberts weren’t on the books. You could make trades and have the full mid level if your role players weren’t overpaid. Surrond your stars with better role players. Now we seem to be stuck with old useless role players.