“It’s six degrees of Ron Artest”

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 5:55 pm
A must read from the NY Times on Indy-GS

The New York Times
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March 25, 2007
The Pacers Are Still Living With Their Moment of Infamy
By LIZ ROBBINS

Water and barley and a few hops into the stands transformed the Indiana Pacers in an instant.

It has been two and a half seasons since the Detroit Pistons fan John Green tossed his cup of beer at Ron Artest, who then charged into the stands after him and instigated the brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

“We had a team that won 61 games the year before and we were on our way toward being a contending team,” the Pacers’ chief executive, Donnie Walsh, said in a telephone interview Thursday, reflecting on that November 2004 game with the Pistons.

“We beat them soundly that night. Then a fan throws a cup of beer on Ronnie and from that point forward, it fragmented the team and the franchise. We have to get it back on track. That’s not that easy when you’re giving up key players.”

Every move the Pacers’ front office has made since seems to be a patchwork reaction to Artest’s reaction. But no move has yet mended the holes of what used to be a model franchise led by Reggie Miller, who retired at the end of the 2004-5 season, the same season as the brawl.

From player unrest to players being arrested and losing streaks in between, the Pacers (31-37) have gone from a contender that has made the playoffs the past nine seasons to a club fighting to avoid the lottery.

Before Indiana’s 95-70 home victory against the Miami Heat on Friday moved the Pacers into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the franchise had the fourth-lowest attendance average, 15,265, in the league.

Having lost 13 of their past 15 games, the Pacers have aided the Nets and the Knicks in their limping playoff chase. The Pacers may also be credited with an assist if the Golden State Warriors make the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons. Indiana sent them Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington as part of an eight-player swap in January.

One franchise’s bust is another’s immediate boon.

While Chris Mullin, the vice president of the Warriors, pulled off what looks to be a steal, Indiana received overpriced and underperforming role players in Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, in addition to Ike Diogu and the little-used Keith McLeod.

Marquis Daniels, for whom the Pacers traded in the off-season, has missed the past 10 games with a sore left knee. The Pacers have been left bereft of veterans who can create their own shots.

The offensive-minded Warriors (33-37), meanwhile, playing with a healthy point guard, Baron Davis, might have gotten the boost they needed to break the longest playoff drought in the N.B.A.

“We’ve got a great opportunity sitting in front of us,” Mullin said Thursday. “I feel like we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”

Jackson could not be happier. “I needed a change,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday, referring to the negativity he said he felt from Indiana fans.

It was Jackson who made moot a preseason Pacers advertising slogan — “It’s up to us” — featuring the players. That was pulled shortly after another public relations nightmare. This one, in October outside an Indianapolis strip club, involved Jackson, Jamaal Tinsley and Daniels. Jackson fired warning shots in a melee before a driver hit him with a car.

The driver was later sentenced to two years in prison. Jackson is awaiting an April 12 trial for three charges, including criminal recklessness.

Jackson said he had felt judged by Indiana fans ever since he ran after Artest into the stands, earning a 30-game suspension. “I felt like things were happening and they weren’t my fault, but they were getting blamed on me,” he said.

Still, Jackson said that if a brawl were to break out again, he would rush into the stands to protect a teammate. “If I don’t get to the Hall of Fame for winning championships, then I know I’ll be there for the brawl,” Jackson said laughing.

He can be lighthearted again while playing in Coach Don Nelson’s free-flowing offense, averaging more points, assists and steals than he did in Indiana. A 6-foot-8 forward, he is playing four positions. “Nellie tells me I’m a marvelous player,” Jackson said.

With his system and personality, Nelson is the direct opposite of his Indiana counterpart, Rick Carlisle. Carlisle has coached under challenging circumstances, scrambling for eligible players in the 2004-5 season after the team suspensions for the brawl and revamping his roster with two major trades in the following seasons.

But Carlisle’s rigidly controlled offense has been an issue with some of his players. “I felt like we had so much talent on that team,” Jackson said, “and it wasn’t being used to its full potential. He wasn’t letting players play the way they could.”

Before the season, Jackson said, Carlisle approached Jackson and the star Jermaine O’Neal and asked whether they wanted him to remain as coach. They did. “I like Coach Carlisle,” Jackson said. “I’d never take away anyone’s livelihood.”

Carlisle has the endorsement of the team president Larry Bird, his close friend and former Celtics teammate, who gave him an extension this season. But while there was speculation that Carlisle could be fired last month, the players’ off-court problems probably saved his job, at least for now.

“The worst thing you could do,” Walsh said about turmoil, “is change your coach.”

Tinsley and Daniels were indicted Feb. 21 by a grand jury and face misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct charges for their roles in a late-night brawl outside another Indianapolis nightclub. Fans at Conseco Fieldhouse booed Tinsley after he turned himself in with Daniels.

“I’m a little surprised that everybody was so quick to castigate them for incidents that they were charged with and not convicted of,” Walsh said.

Carlisle, however, did suspend Tinsley earlier this month for tardiness.

“We are a small community,” Roland Dorson, the president of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, said in a telephone interview Friday, “and the conduct of athletes is magnified maybe more than it would be in the Big Apple because of the proximity of the players. Then you pile losses on top of conduct and that can add to the disappointment.”

O’Neal is still the franchise player and, despite Walsh’s and Bird’s trade inquiries the past two years, it seems almost certain O’Neal would stay before Carlisle.

What about Walsh? At 66, Walsh, a New York City native, has guided the Pacers for 20 seasons, and his team has made the playoffs in 16 of them. Acknowledging that this has been a “horrible season,” he said he would not decide until June whether to retire or accept a new contract.

“My own feeling is I’ve probably been here too long and that’s not healthy,” Walsh said. “I did bring Larry in with the idea that he would replace me.

“If I do stay here — it isn’t like one of these deals where, ‘I can’t leave them like this.’ I’ve told Larry that it’s his — if I can help him, fine.”

If Walsh stays through the June draft, he may not have much to do. Last summer, the Pacers brought Harrington back in a sign-and-trade deal with the Atlanta Hawks. Harrington replaced Peja Stojakovic, who, after coming to Indiana in the Artest trade, signed last summer with the Hornets.

In the Harrington trade, the Pacers gave Atlanta the rights to their 2007 first-round pick, provided it falls between the 11th and 16th overall picks, but a top 10 pick is protected.

“It’s six degrees of Ron Artest,” Walsh said.

In this 40th anniversary season for the Pacers, with a history that includes six conference finals appearances since 1994 and some memorable Miller shots against the Knicks, one incident still grips the franchise, if not the city.
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:29 pm
As long as SJackson remains relatively out of trouble AND keeps doing what he has been, it was a good trade for the team
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:06 pm
Excellent article. I completely agree; the Indiana Pacers are melting fast.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 2:41 am
And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:54 am
TMC wrote:And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...


Well he's crazy, he should try and avoid more incidents.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 2:27 pm
TMC wrote:And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...

The funny thing is... you know he's not kidding about it. Other players might say something like that to get attention, but Artest seldom lies in the media to get more ink. The guy's seriously nuts.

Two years ago, he looked like MVP material. The best defender in the league... combined with the fact that he was a 25 PPG scorer who could rebound and distribute well. Artest did it all.

Than the Palace happened at it's been downhill ever since. Thats really sad.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 3:16 pm
32 wrote:
TMC wrote:And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...

The funny thing is... you know he's not kidding about it. Other players might say something like that to get attention, but Artest seldom lies in the media to get more ink. The guy's seriously nuts.

Two years ago, he looked like MVP material. The best defender in the league... combined with the fact that he was a 25 PPG scorer who could rebound and distribute well. Artest did it all.

Than the Palace happened at it's been downhill ever since. Thats really sad.


He's never averaged over 19 PPG or 3 assists in his career, but otherwise I agree.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 3:45 pm
Indy was indeed well on it's way to a finals birth prior to the fight. Funny how it all plays out. O'Neal coldcocked a fan (Not that an idiot running at him on the court didn't deserve it) and seems to have gotten a pass, as opposed to Artest and Jackson. Most players in pro sports are in a world where they are celebrate and catered to way out of proportion to what they contribute to the world. Pretty hard for any 18-21 year old to keep that in perspective. All they have done for the 12-15 years prior to the NBA is work on their game, get passed in classes they don't go to, get laid by cheerleaders and other groupies, gotten all kinds of car and other bling, etc...you all know the drill. In light of the fact that these supremely gifted diversions from the real world have had almost no experience with normal social interaction and expectations and are playing a heated game in front of rich, drunk courtside seat fans living out their fantasies, it is surprising that more of this doesn't happen. I also think the cultural subtext of all of this is fascinating. Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest fit in about as well in INDY as Pat Robertson would in Haight Ashbury.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:51 pm
Those are the reasons I never would want to be famous in an ongoing spotlight position. It all just disintegrates you
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:17 pm
JayPat wrote:
32 wrote:
TMC wrote:And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...

The funny thing is... you know he's not kidding about it. Other players might say something like that to get attention, but Artest seldom lies in the media to get more ink. The guy's seriously nuts.

Two years ago, he looked like MVP material. The best defender in the league... combined with the fact that he was a 25 PPG scorer who could rebound and distribute well. Artest did it all.

Than the Palace happened at it's been downhill ever since. Thats really sad.


He's never averaged over 19 PPG or 3 assists in his career, but otherwise I agree.

Check his stats prior to being suspended from the Detroit incident.

24.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Shooting 49.6% from the field, 41.2% from the arc, and 92.2% from the arc


Granted, he only played 7 games that season... but he still looked like MVP material... especially considering he put up similar numbers the previous season (the only difference, as you said, in scoring).
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 9:19 pm
32 wrote:
JayPat wrote:
32 wrote:
TMC wrote:And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...

The funny thing is... you know he's not kidding about it. Other players might say something like that to get attention, but Artest seldom lies in the media to get more ink. The guy's seriously nuts.

Two years ago, he looked like MVP material. The best defender in the league... combined with the fact that he was a 25 PPG scorer who could rebound and distribute well. Artest did it all.

Than the Palace happened at it's been downhill ever since. Thats really sad.


He's never averaged over 19 PPG or 3 assists in his career, but otherwise I agree.

Check his stats prior to being suspended from the Detroit incident.

24.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Shooting 49.6% from the field, 41.2% from the arc, and 92.2% from the arc


Granted, he only played 7 games that season... but he still looked like MVP material... especially considering he put up similar numbers the previous season (the only difference, as you said, in scoring).


Yeah, but seven games isn't enough to warrant calling him a "25 PPG scorer." That's like calling Harrington a 22 PPG scorer.

Also, assists are still low at 3.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:58 am
JayPat wrote:Yeah, but seven games isn't enough to warrant calling him a "25 PPG scorer." That's like calling Harrington a 22 PPG scorer.


True, seven games are not enough to measure anything. Lots of players have had months like that one, or even better, just to get back to their real level with time.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:45 am
migya wrote:Those are the reasons I never would want to be famous in an ongoing spotlight position. It all just disintegrates you

amen - have seen it in music, even jazz. Players given the star treatment at 17-18 tend to walk around in a state of arrested development, whereas those who truly develop as human beings prior to the kliegs have balance and perspective.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 10:28 am
JayPat wrote:
32 wrote:
JayPat wrote:
32 wrote:
TMC wrote:And now Artest is talking about retirement at season's end...

The funny thing is... you know he's not kidding about it. Other players might say something like that to get attention, but Artest seldom lies in the media to get more ink. The guy's seriously nuts.

Two years ago, he looked like MVP material. The best defender in the league... combined with the fact that he was a 25 PPG scorer who could rebound and distribute well. Artest did it all.

Than the Palace happened at it's been downhill ever since. Thats really sad.


He's never averaged over 19 PPG or 3 assists in his career, but otherwise I agree.

Check his stats prior to being suspended from the Detroit incident.

24.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG, 0.9 BPG
Shooting 49.6% from the field, 41.2% from the arc, and 92.2% from the arc


Granted, he only played 7 games that season... but he still looked like MVP material... especially considering he put up similar numbers the previous season (the only difference, as you said, in scoring).


Yeah, but seven games isn't enough to warrant calling him a "25 PPG scorer." That's like calling Harrington a 22 PPG scorer.

Also, assists are still low at 3.

Well, yeah, but I think its safe to assume that the Palace incident f'ed him up a bit. If that never happened, there's no reason to believe he wouldn't have kept up his improvements all year. Probably not at 25 PPG, but maybe 21 or 22. Artest was ROLLING that year... and it was a continuation from the previous year.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 12:58 pm
32 wrote:Well, yeah, but I think its safe to assume that the Palace incident f'ed him up a bit.


Sure. He's never been the same since then... an probably never will be. That incident was when he passed from the "eccentric" label to "headcase".
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