I’ve come to really enjoy Ron Artest because he is entirely driven by impulse. The way we all kind of wish we could be more of on some level. He may be more id driven than anyone else on the planet, but it just works for him. Even if he doesn’t understand all the rules.
That comes through in ESPN’s Rick Riley’s piece where he spends a day with Artest. You get brilliant lines like this.
Ron Ron is carrying a large bag of food for his lunch — all vegan. But Ron Ron is not entirely vegan. “About 80 percent,” he says. “I like pork chops.”
The triangle offense is not about impulse. It’s about reading and reacting, about spacing, about taking what the defense gives you not just taking what you want.
As you might imagine, Artest doesn’t really get it.
“See, I can’t really understand the Triangle [offense],” he admits. “There’s 1,000 plays in the Triangle. It’s such a challenge. I get so frustrated about it, I have to call my psychiatrist. So I just stay in my one spot in the corner. If I leave my spot, I get yelled at. Phil’s gonna say, ‘What are you doing over there?!?’ So I just don’t move.”
The phrasing here is perfect. What makes the triangle work is that there are no “plays” in the traditional sense of the word. There are actions based on the actions of others and the defense, but it’s not a set play most of the time.
Kobe Bryant, he gets Artest’s mentality.
“He’s the kind of guy, if you give him specific, exact directions, he’ll follow them,” Bryant says. “But they have to be exact. But once you give them to him, he’ll follow them even if he has to run through a wall.”
Thing is, there are times you need guys who just go get it. Artest did that in Game 7 of the finals and a few other times in the playoffs. Impulses can lead to plays — to game winning plays. The Lakers will need those impulses again come the playoffs.
So the Lakers live with them now and go buy him some pork chops.