Its now time for him to show what he’s made of. Good morning, Ron Artest. This is your mid-April wake-up call.

The playoffs are here, though Ron-Ron isn’t. In the literal sense, yes — he played and started 77 games and was second on the Lakers in total minutes, behind only Kobe Bryant. But the expected energy rush has mostly been missing. The constriction on defense has mostly been lacking.

And now here comes Kevin Durant.

It’s a first round of Bryant and the Lakers against Durant and the Thunder starting Sunday at Staples Center, and of Artest against history. Think the rumble in Auburn Hills, Mich., cemented his legacy? Try being known as the difference between a back-to-back and a flat-on-their-back.

That means Lakers management is also very much on the hook. They’re the ones that took a screwdriver to a proven fit last summer and essentially swapped 24-year-old Trevor Ariza for the 30-year-old Artest even after Ariza played a key role in the 2009 title. Ariza was allowed to leave as a free agent and sign with Houston, and Ariza took his place in Houston in a perfect bit of symmetry and easy comparison.

Welcome to the outcome. Artest had a letdown of a regular season, but the playoffs and the playoffs. Now here comes Durant — scoring champion, 6-feet-9 of perimeter game, post game, drawing fouls, putting the ball on the floor — as the first assignment in an immediate showdown that will go a long way to settling the Ariza-Artest debate.

Handle Durantula as well as can be expected, and Artest is money well spent and a hero. Get picked apart, and Staples Center will yearn for Ariza.

Continue reading ‘Time to wake up Ron Ron’

  • artest hater

    what a bust!

  • tradesasha

    let’s go artest, lets prove everyone wrong…it’s playoffs time!!!

  • Robert

    Remember in last year’s playoffs (against Houston), that Ron-Ron essentially led that team, and was able to handle the Lakers for the most playoff games in any series.
    He was challenging the Lakers then, but after the 5th game something happened (I think the refs called a few extra fouls on Ron-Ron, and he got testy with Kobe and they took it out on RR), and the switch was turned off. He missed shots, and Houston lost the last game.
    If he can turn ‘on’ that switch, and keep it on for all the playoffs, then the Lakers will be good. Recall (also) that he has played a ‘lot’ of the year with plantar fasciitis. So it seems to me that he was ‘letting up’ on playing hard during the year, to save it for the playoffs. But, I think NOW that he’ll have to play ‘hard’ through that, in the playoffs. If they lose one series, then he’ll have plenty of time to heal, and I KNOW Kobe doesn’t want to go home early. They want a chance at the title.

    • tradesasha

      no team wants to get bounce early!

  • Vk2

    “One opposing coach, asked what difference he noticed in the 2010 version of Artest, said, “It’s not what you notice. It’s more that you don’t notice.” Artest was turning invisible.”

    So true.

  • Wilt

    Artest will be the difference maker of wether or not we repeat lets hope we get the animal we saw in houston last year.(minus the attitude, Technicals etc.)

  • Laker4 Life

    This playoffs will be all about Artest and his defense. If he stops their opponents best player there is no question Artest will get his first ring in a Lakers uniform.

  • Robert

    I think Artest actually ‘needs’ to have that attitude, and get a technical or two. Other teams know that the Lakers are injured, so they need a good scrapper to let them know that the Lakers aren’t going to be pushed around. That would be Ron-Ron. (Last year it was Fish in that role). Time for Ron-Ron to earn what he got paid for, especially coming to LA.