Los Angeles Lakers: Ron Artest Scapegoating Himself at His Own, Team’s Expense

With the 2011 NBA All-Star Game right around the corner, you'd think people in Los Angeles would be talking about the specter of sport celebrity that's about to descend on the Staples Center.

Instead, it seems as though the world of basketball in Southern California will, for now, have to concern itself with Lakers turmoil, mostly regarding the human lightning rod known as Ron Artest.

Word along Figueroa St.—and out of the mouths of Magic Johnson, Mitch Kupchak and Phil Jackson—is that the purple and gold are looking to shake things up and, furthermore, that Ron-Ron has so graciously offered himself as trade bait, going so far as to pierce a fishing hook through his cheek.

Okay, so maybe that last part isn't entirely true, but I'm sure he wouldn't mind at least paying for his own plane ticket out of town.


The Pursuit of Unhappiness

So why, pray tell, is all of this going on right now?

Well, as far as the team as a whole is concerned, the Lakers have looked like anything but two-time defending champions for much of the 2010-2011 season. Yes, the team is still doing well on paper, with a 34-15 record—second-best in the West—and the league's fourth-best point differential (+6.9).

However, many who follow the team have been displeased with the Lakers' overall performance this season. Aside from beating up on the Blind Sisters of the Poor, Kobe Bryant and company have done little thus far to suggest that they're ready for another title run, with a 1-5 record against the NBA's best (San Antonio, Miami, Dallas, Chicago) and seven home losses—as many as they had all of last season!

Some, like Jackson (at times), have taken to pointing the finger at Artest, whose season averages of 8.1 points and 2.9 rebounds in just under 28 minutes per game are all easily career worsts for the mercurial man from Queensbridge.

And, whil...

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