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LAKERS FYI

Ron Artest returns to Chicago and talks about environment

Lakers forward faces some comments about recent admissions about his drinking during his days with the Bulls, and is introspective and entertaining after an off shooting night.

December 16, 2009|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Ron Artest, shown having a shot blocked by the Bulls' James Johnson,had a bad shooting night, making only three of 14 shots and scoring nine points in 45 minutes, but had fun with the press afterward.
Ron Artest, shown having a shot blocked by the Bulls' James Johnson,had… (Jim Prisching / Associated…)

Reporting from Chicago — Ron Artest was back in Chicago, playing against the team that drafted him in 1999 and returning to the place where he went astray almost a decade ago, in his own words, as the losses started to pile up for the Bulls.

Windy City hospitality? The Lakers forward was asked by a reporter before Tuesday's game whether he stopped by the liquor store that he frequented before games while with the Bulls.

"Not in this environment," he said, after defending his character by saying the Lakers -- the "world champions," he emphasized -- had enough interest to sign him during the off-season. "This is a basketball environment."

Artest recently acknowledged drinking at halftime of NBA games earlier in his career. Bulls fans were definitely willing to remind him in the Lakers' 96-87 victory Tuesday at the United Center.

"Give Artest a Sobriety Test," read one sign held up by a fan in the first few rows across from the Lakers' bench.

Artest had a bad shooting night, making only three of 14 shots and scoring nine points in 45 minutes. He made one of seven three-point attempts. His postgame comments were typical Artest -- entertaining, introspective and often completely paradoxical.

So how was his relationship with the triangle offense?

"It's great. I take it on dates and everything," he said. "Fine wine. A lot of romance. A lot of kissing up. Trying to get used to her and hopefully she'll give me her number. I love the triangle."

Shortly thereafter, he said he had been taking too many shots and needed to look for Pau Gasol down low.

"He needs to get the ball more," Artest said. "Maybe that takes some of me sacrificing some shots and instead of taking the quick shot, just seeing where Pau is at and making sure he's involved.

"I thought over the last four games, I took too many shots. No, not too many shots, but I think I could have got him involved more."

Gasol had eight shots against Chicago and scored 10 points.

After saying several times this season that Artest was being too deferential on offense, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wasn't going to criticize him for being too aggressive.

"He's done a great job so far," Jackson said.

Action Jackson

Jackson was also a popular interview subject, as is the case whenever the Lakers play in Chicago.

With a team that basically wins five of every six games it plays, he was asked whether he was enjoying coaching more than ever.

"Not more than ever," he said. "But I'm enjoying it."

Jackson, 64, was also asked whether he was recognized more while walking down the streets of Chicago or Los Angeles.

"I don't walk down the streets in L.A. That's for sure," he said jokingly.

Good news?

There won't be any melees involving Artest at the Palace of Auburn Hills when the Lakers play Detroit on Sunday.

Artest recently said he was "always in the mood" to fight Pistons center Ben Wallace, but changed his thought process Tuesday.

"Ben Wallace is a good guy. I love his defense," Artest said. "We can [fight] on pay-per-view in an organized chaos, but definitely not on a basketball court. Don't look forward to that."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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