Los Angeles Lakers: Where is Ron Artest’s Intensity?

Written by Steve Han

I’m about to do something I’ve never done in the past, and that’s publicly blasting a beloved Laker.

It’s about time someone stands up and puts Ron Artest on the front street for his uninspiring performances this season. As far as statistics are concerned, it would be harsh to throw Artest under the bus. He’s currently averaging just over 10 points per game, which is adequate for a player who wasn’t brought in for his offense, and his average of two steals per game is certainly closer to being impressive than disappointing.

But as Mark Twain once said, “There are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics.” This adage seems to fit the quality of Artest’s outings this season perfectly.

It’s worth bringing up the very reason why Artest was brought into the Lakers at the expense of Trevor Ariza last year—his defense. But this defense, even last season, has been inconsistent to begin with, but there were no complaints in the end as he came through with his hard nosed defending when it truly mattered throughout the playoffs and topped it all off with a memorable 20-point performance in Game 7 of the Finals.

But how much longer do the Lakers keep their faith on a defensive player with a habit of turning it on and off? This is already a team that struggles to play its style of basketball on a nightly basis. How many more of these personnel can Phil Jackson afford to keep in his starting lineup?

It’s still too early in the season, but watching Artest, clearly lacking intensity, get bamboozled by the likes of DaMarcus Beasley has to be an alarming concern for all Laker fans. It’s not even worth bringing up his embarrassing defensive displays against elite players so far in the season including Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay who both scored over 30 points against the Lakers.

While a f...

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