My apologies for not getting to this earlier. I began an article on this as soon as it happened, but the Blogspot template will not let me back-date the post. So here it is...
I've never been a fan of Ron Artest. He was always a play away from doing something completely stupid, and that's because he is stupid. Special ED to the max. But the elbow that he administered to James Harden's cranium during a season-ending game speaks volumes to the failure of his psychiatrist to keep this unhinged idiot form wreaking havoc on the court.
Ron Artest is no longer the player he once was. He was a defensive specialist, whose toughness and tenacity made him the bane of opposing players all over the NBA. He never had much of an offensive game, but he could take the ball to the rack and wasn't a terrible shooter. He is no longer fleet of foot and he always starts the season in woeful form. He has taken the Shaquille O'Neil approach of using the season as training camp to get himself in shape, and sometimes that lasts until April. As a defensive wizard, this year, he stopped no one. In the Playoffs, he did absolutely nothing.
So we are now left with his one-dimensional, semi-deluded, Mike Tyson-esque shtick while we watch his game exit via the rear door. Watching Artest play basketball is like watching a redneck take a shit in an outhouse with the door wide open-you just wish you were somewhere else. Stunts like showing up on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" show bare torsoed was excusable seeing as the Lakers had just won the NBA championship and he was a major contributor to the cause. Then he was our favorite little pet freak, but never quite endearing enough to shelter us from the constant menace he exuded. When you listen to his diatribe of the Harden incident, you realize the guy is going to be more of a hindrance and less of an asset not only because he still has the "Malice at the Palace" as a behavioral template, but because of his clearly eroding skills. So don't be surprised if this is how Artest decides to leave his mark on the NBA in his waning years-
James Harden being interviewed after the incident. That Artest elbow seems to have left an indelible mark-
This is what the Lakers are stuck with, because there is no general manager willing to take the trifecta of problems Artest brings with him-
1) His contract is for too much for too long.
2) His skills have diminished.
3) He's an asshole, who even while on medication can go from zero to stupid faster than a Porsche 911.
They have an unmotivated front line, thanks to the preeminent ballhog of the last five years, Kobe Bryant, who refuses to incorporate any other type of offense besides "I take all the shots". They have a point guard who caused a lot of excitement when they traded for him but who has the skills of a back-up, and a bench that I wouldn't take to a prison league tournament. And did I mention they're egregiously over the salary cap?
Kobe Bryant expects the Lakers front office to pull off some type of miracle that will get them past the second round of the playoffs, but unless Orlando is willing to trade Dwight Howard for Andrew Bynam, I don't see how they can improve the team. They are stuck, and will be looking in their rearview mirror as the Oklahoma City Thunder roll past them for the duration of Bryant's last years in the league.
Here's to hoping Artest shows up motivated and in-shape next year. Yeah, right.