HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Ron Artest is the featured guest on Day 3 of the Lakers’ Traveling Circus.
When Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn’t passing out books, publicly coaching his star players or trading barbs with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who referred to Jackson as Jeanie Buss‘ “boy toy,” he is throwing up his dukes at practice with Artest.
Fine, so we put a little frosting on that last part. But Jackson did confirm the reported altercation with Artest, though he disputed the tenor of the altercation and the way it was initially described.
Of course, Artest was not a happy man when his name showed up on the LTC blotter.
He also confirmed the shouting match between he and Jackson. But he also reminded everyone, including HT fave Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, that he’s done everything in his power to avoid these sorts of conflicts and public spats since joining the Lakers:
Before Tuesday’s 108-83 victory over the Detroit Pistons, Artest was as lost in the locker room as he has been on the court, clearly upset that news of his standoff with Jackson was leaked.
“I’ve worked too hard to have something like this come out,” Artest said, shaking his head. “My image is very important to me — whatever image I have left — and this hurts, this really hurts.”
He added, “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.”
He was so upset that, as reporters were leaving the interview, he asked them to enhance his emotions.
“Put tears around those quotes, OK?” he said.
Win or lose these days, the Lakers’ in-house affairs are a mess.
Even messier when they get Wiki-leaked for all our viewing pleasure.
But unlike Kobe Bryant, who is used to dealing with Jackson’s motivational tactics, someone will have to mend fences with Artest or risk losing the man who saved the Lakers’ title hopes in Game 7 of The Finals last season.