"They suck. Both of them."
Before anyone takes this as a literal diss, much less the makings of a new 140-character-or-less war of words between an Artest and the former Laker swingman, Ron was NOT IN ANY WAY seriously criticizing Ariza's game ON ANY LEVEL. As Ron has made perfectly clear throughout the season -most recently reported by ESPNLA.com's Dave McMenamin- he respects Ariza's game. He'd actually prefer the two stop being compared altogether, but thanks to that pesky McMenamin, the NBA's Fred Savage and Judge Reinhold once again received a tale of the tape treatment.
McMenamin's article (which gives Ron the nod over Trevor) seems to have gotten Daniel Artest boasting via Twitter on his brother's behalf, sparking a cyber-response from Ariza. The back and forth included a swipe from TA ("what r u doing with ur life?") and Daniel telling Ariza his career can't hold a candle to his bro's. The conversation even prompted Kevin Durant to chime in with his two cents.
The entire exchange has been neatly pieced together by the O.C. Register's Kevin Ding, who, ironically, also received a Twitter request from Ariza to defend his take on the small forward switch as well.
The NBA: Where "I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried" happens.
For his part, Ron-Ron has sworn off Twitter until the playoffs are done and had no idea this exchange took place. When informed, he offered his amused take on both principals, quickly wondering "what is going with the world?" Ariza's jab at Daniel's non-NBA existence got a big laugh from Ron ("He said that? That's so funny!"), but as he clarified, his brother never being employed by the league wasn't for a lack of qualifications. Ron couldn't gush enough about Daniel's prime as a baller.
"He had a chance to easily be in the NBA. And he just wanted to play street ball. I never understood it. He's so talented. He's so talented. He could have easily been in the NBA. A guy who's big and strong, and can rebound and shoot. My brother was like something different. Way different."
Artest noted factors like overconfidence and grades hurt his brother's chances to play at the Division I level, which put him behind the eight ball early on. From there, Daniel sort of gave up, which Ron admitted was a disappointing turn of events for his family. But the skills were what they were and in Ron's opinion, Daniel's stacked up against anybody's, his own included. For that matter, the hardwood isn't the only area where the lesser-known Artest reigns supreme.
"He's a way better rapper than me," chuckled Artest.
Hearing Ron talk about his brother, who he labeled "a good person," was pretty touching. Beyond the obvious affection, you're reminded of just how much work is required to reach this level. Talent alone isn't enough. Missteps and disillusionment often emerge. "Making it" can't ever be assumed nor taken for granted.
Artest was in a pretty chatty mood today, which prompted an interesting discussion about his playoff experience. Ron arguably arrived in camp this season more gassed to get a ring, considering he's the only member of the team lacking jewelry. He's now just two wins from a Finals berth and six away from the whole enchilada. But despite being so relatively close, he's not allowing himself to think much about the journey. For that matter, he's not really even having much fun at the moment. Enjoyment doesn't even enter the current equation.
Artest on his shooting and increasing comfort in the triangle:
Kobe Bryant offered some praise for Pau Gasol and Jordan Farmar. Incidentally, as the playoffs go deeper, more reporters show up to practice. Between the ensuing scrum and Kobe's tendency to use his "indoor voice," it's often hard to hear him. As a result, Brian asked Kobe if he thought Pau was underrated about a minute after Kobe stated he was, in fact, underrated. Exact adjective, no less. If you listen carefully, you can hear Kobe jokingly say "plagiarism" under his breath at Brian.
He's got a point, by the way. If Kobe must answer our inane questions day in and day out, he should at least get writer credit for his response. It's only fair.
Phil Jackson on Gasol and maintaining focus while up 2-0 on Phoenix:
Pau also talked about maintaining focus, plus the importance of a healthy Andrew Bynum. There were also thoughts on Amare Stoudemire's "lucky" take on Lamar Odom, which he neither agrees with nor thinks was the brightest thing in the world to say.