The situation Jackson made sure everyone knew that had ended however, was a man-to-man confrontation he and Artest had in practice Monday reported by Yahoo! Sports scribe Adrian Wojnarowski. Although Jackson acknowledged the report was partly true, he downplayed any controversy the report would stir up, stating that it was nothing out of the ordinary. Just that it was “out of character for both that to happen at practice, and for Ron.” Perhaps the leaked report to the media was also something Jackson felt was out of line.
If it were up to Artest, all matters regarding his actions on-and-off the court would remain in-house. The Lakers forward has little interest to be involved in any controversies.
“Ron came in and apologized not only to me, but in front of the team for what he said was a distraction at practice,” Jackson said. “That was his own desire to do that; I didn’t solicit it from him.”
Since the incident, Artest has looked like a different player. He looked more relaxed on the floor, took his time finding the right shots, had two steals and even dished out four assists against the Pistons. Against the Suns he scored he made three of his shots from beyond the arc, one of those reminiscent of the one he made during game six of the Western Conference Finals.
Recently, the media has been a platform for Jackson to express his grievances and failed expectations towards his team. That’s really nothing new. The targets sometime change, but the message is usually pretty consistent. Whether it’s lamenting Bryant’s disengagement with the triangle offense, Gasol’s soft shooting or an inconsistent Artest, his statements are heard loud and clear. Whether or not the messages are crystal clear is always up for interpretation.
It’s anyone’s guess if it ever crossed Jackson’s mind that this season wouldn’t be the cake-walk through the Western Conference like everyone assumed it would be when he was reflecting on his decision to come back this season, while enjoying the view from Whitefish, Montana. Jackson has won 11 championships as a head-coach, it’s doubtful he’s not familiar with facing challenges or adversity. Turns out he’s actually going to have to do more than just manipulate his troops out of complacency, at some point he may have to start coaching.
There’s no time quite like the present.