Ron Artest's feet are bugging him. His shoes are bugging Phil Jackson.
Earlier in the year, Phil Jackson threw a wrench in his organization's ability to woo sponsorship dollars from McDonald's after he blamed Lamar Odom's stomach problems on a Big Mac he ate earlier that day.
Well, if the front office folks were hoping to wrangle some dollars from Peak, the Chinese shoe company endorsing/outfitting Ron Artest (and Sasha Vujacic, though that's not all that relevant at the moment), Jackson has complicated that relationship as well. Discussing Artest's struggles with plantar fasciitis in both his feet, PJ tossed a major grenade at his forward's footwear. "I called his shoes concrete boots for about the last month," Jackson said to ESPNLosAngeles.com. "Those shoes look like they're made for the Hudson River. He stays with them and he gets his feet worked on but he does not move really quickly. He looks like he's clogging around out there."
Artest, who officially let the world in on his foot issues via Twitter (his physical problems, though, have been known for a while), will continue trying to play and says his condition is actually improving. Sunday's 2-8, five point, one rebound performance belies his position, particularly when put in the context of a fairly unproductive January.
Clearly Jackson isn't buying what Artest is selling, noting he might be forced to sit Artest at some point if things don't improve. We've noted repeatedly Artest's lack of lift, and his movement is now compromised as well. Artest's bread and butter defensively is his size and physical nature, but he can't put those to use if offensive players can simply blow by him, which is happening more frequently these days. He doesn't have to be "Brandon Jennings quick" to be effective, however "Brian Kamenetzky quick" won't cut it.
Plantar fasciitis is a tricky injury to treat, and can be extremely painful. Like Pau Gasol's hamstrings, this is an injury the Lakers will need to treat carefully. If Artest's performance continues to deteriorate, any decision to rest him probably gets easy.