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View Full Version : Sam Smith weighs in on the Pacers and Artest.



Unclebuck
10-23-2005, 10:48 AM
Seems like everyone writes an article on Ronnie


http://chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/sports/columnists/cs-0510230163oct23,1,1695910.column?coll=cs-columnists

ON THE NBA

Last best chance for Artest--and Pacers
Sam Smith
On Pro Basketball

October 23, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS -- This comfortable Midwest metropolis built around downtown war memorials and expansive parks is becoming a must visit for those around the NBA, sort of one of the seven wonders of the NBA world. It has become a mecca for America's media, the required pilgrimage before the start of the NBA season next week.

The day I was there, an uneventful Monday during which the Indiana Pacers had a practice scheduled, reporters were present from USA Today, the Associated Press and the Baltimore Sun. Many had come and gone already, including Sports Illustrated and ESPN.

They'd come, mostly warily and not with great enthusiasm, to talk to Ron Artest.

It is not a frightening prospect, though Artest was responsible for the ugliest mark on the face of the NBA, the brutal brawl last Nov. 19 in Auburn Hills, Mich., that continues to be replayed ad nauseam on TV as an alleged representation of what the NBA has become.

Though no one exactly expects Artest to assault anyone, they come with regularity to examine the monster, to peer and squint like they're at a museum to see some historic figure. It is a penance of sorts for Artest to answer the endless mind-numbing inquiries about his soul and psychology after being allowed back in the NBA following his suspension for most of last season. It is part of the cleansing process.

One cannot raise Artest's name here--and it was much the same when he played for the Bulls--without hearing how wonderful and gentle and friendly he truly is.

But there's this other side, the anger, the explosion. That's just Ronnie. Everyone shrugs. No one has ever known quite what to do about it.

Artest offers talent, competitiveness and a work ethic that can make a team a championship contender. He is a fearless, chiseled, powerful man who has been an All-Star and voted the league's best defensive player. But he exhibits bizarre, angry behavior, wild shots and wilder actions that can snatch it all away in seconds. That's what happened last season when the Pacers believed they were championship contenders.

So I get my 10 minutes and sit down with Artest, who pulls on his sweatshirt and puts his hood up even though we are indoors. He says he has a cold.

Artest speaks with a rambling innocence that is part gibberish, part earnestness. He talks about being a professional boxer someday, about his music career, his producing, his singing group. He talks of big plans for another career but also offers the requisite contrition for his behavior last season.

So how exactly do people see him?

"I think people just look at me as normal," Artest says. "Everywhere I go, even when I was in Chicago, Indiana, people look at me as normal.

"They feel they can approach me. If anything, I'm approachable. Even with all that stuff. They look at me as an ordinary person."

Talent-laden team

Nothing is ordinary when Ron Artest is part of your team.

It has been a debate since the Bulls traded him here in February 2002. There has been euphoria and cataclysm: a thrilling conference final run that ended in Detroit in 2004, appropriately, with Artest in a maelstrom and ejected. Mostly first-round playoff exits, though, almost a dozen suspensions for Artest, embarrassment and uneasiness for the team and the community.

They're all lined up behind Artest once again, but perhaps for the last time. And not just because it's a supposed last chance for Artest.

It probably is for a talented Pacers team. If it fails again, whether because of Artest or despite him, big changes seem inevitable.

The Pacers have a core of talent with Artest, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal to compete with any team.

They've made clever additions. Guard Sarunas Jasikevicius is a deadeye shooter with an attitude.

Rookie Danny Granger is an Artest wannabe without the baggage. Point guard Jamaal Tinsley is one of the most underrated players in the NBA, and there is toughness on the front line with Jeff Foster. It is a team that can win the NBA championship.

But how long can they remain patient if they don't?

This is O'Neal's sixth season with the Pacers. There has been MVP talk, but he has been an indifferent playoff performer. With Reggie Miller retired, O'Neal has stepped into a leadership role and gathered the players weeks before camp opened for informal workouts, coach Rick Carlisle said.

"He's been the point man," Carlisle said.

But O'Neal's reputation around the NBA long has been of someone who doesn't set a hard-working example for his teammates or perform in big games.

And in Artest and the combustible Jackson, regarded as one of the most vile trash talkers in the NBA, concerns already have been muttered about who takes over the game and who defers. Some around the NBA have been saying the turmoil amongst the three hastened Miller's retirement and refusal to reconsider.

"Jermaine is my leader," Artest says. "He's Stephen's leader. Stephen is my leader, [Austin] Croshere is my leader, Jamaal is my leader. I do what they say and chip in.

"I'm going to give 100 percent and do things the right way, play and act the right way on and off the court."

Eyes rolling already

Even the Pacers do not know what to expect. Though most of it was innocent or misunderstood, Artest has drawn headlines and stares already.

He said he needed to be "wild and out of control like an animal that needs to be caged in" before playing his first exhibition game earlier this month. He was lackluster in another and explained: "I was practicing out there. I wasn't taking the game too serious."

Pacers coaches and execs wince and roll their eyes. And then they watch him dominate the champion Spurs.

"I love what he's done so far," Carlisle insists. "He's worked hard and been very much a part of the team. But he's got a lot to prove, and we'll determine where he's at over the long haul."

Several teams have made trade offers, mostly liquidation type. They'll take a chance for not much. The Pacers aren't giving Artest away, but they figure to be listening.

Perhaps someday Granger can play the position with inferior results but less intrigue. Not yet. Without Artest, the Pacers are playing for a playoff spot. With him, well, they're playing with fire.

"I've been having a major turnaround," says Artest, who has gone back to wearing No. 15 after sporting 91 as a tribute to Dennis Rodman last year.

"In Detroit, people started trouble with me. I did not start any trouble. I was on a selfish mission when I first came into the league. I wasn't thinking about winning, about team. I was more into getting awards, but now I've learned that is not what is important."

But then there's Artest on the upcoming cover of Penthouse magazine posing with young women. He just doesn't seem to understand.

"I'm a very good player in this league," he says, "but I don't get the opportunity, probably because of my history, with Nike or Adidas, the commercials, so I've got to build my own corporation. I've got to put myself out there in a good way with my music, my videos.

"If Michael Jordan didn't have that exposure, you'd see the way he screams at referees, and people would say he's an animal. It's why I do the videos, the other stuff. So people can see the other side of me, the real side."

----------

sasmith@tribune.com

Kaufman
10-23-2005, 11:05 AM
Interesting article... I don't agree with the slant of it, I think it's somewhat a knock on the guy - of course I'm an Artest supporter, moreso than fan, and I want to see the guy succeed. I dont' think it was the worst thing in league history last year. I still defer that to Kermit Washington/Rudy Tomjanovich for that distinction.

The other thing of it is - he didn't start the thing. I know it's been rehashed a million times. I can't say I would have done much differently if someone would have thrown a cold one at me.

SoupIsGood
10-23-2005, 11:12 AM
But O'Neal's reputation around the NBA long has been of someone who doesn't set a hard-working example for his teammates or perform in big games.




:bs:

Anthem
10-23-2005, 11:24 AM
But then there's Artest on the upcoming cover of Penthouse magazine posing with young women. He just doesn't seem to understand.
Does anybody have a problem with Ron having pictures in Penthouse?

Harmonica
10-23-2005, 11:36 AM
Does anybody have a problem with Ron having pictures in Penthouse?

No more so than Ron having pictures in SI.

That article was pretty banal.

Isaac
10-23-2005, 11:52 AM
I usually like Sam Smith but this is an awful article. He writes it in a way that analyzes Artest as if he isn't human. If I was Ron I'd be pissed off that I gave my time for an article like this.

pacerwaala
10-23-2005, 11:52 AM
Seems like everyone writes an article on Ronnie



And in Artest and the combustible Jackson, regarded as one of the most vile trash talkers in the NBA, concerns already have been muttered about who takes over the game and who defers. Some around the NBA have been saying the turmoil amongst the three hastened Miller's retirement and refusal to reconsider.

"Jermaine is my leader," Artest says. "He's Stephen's leader. Stephen is my leader, [Austin] Croshere is my leader, Jamaal is my leader. I do what they say and chip in.


"If Michael Jordan didn't have that exposure, you'd see the way he screams at referees, and people would say he's an animal. It's why I do the videos, the other stuff. So people can see the other side of me, the real side."

----------

sasmith@tribune.com

The first paragraph about Reggie's retirement,IMHO is a true statement. On this mag board, people tend to underestimate Reggies's presence in hte locker room and on the court as the glue and chemistry enhancer on this team. His absence this year will defintley affect us. Heck, 80% of our starting line up either has a huge ego, are nutcases or mentally fragile in their own way.

Can anybody explain the second paragraph above. Ronnie is not conceding or defering to anybody. That is the way I see it.

Ronnie should go easy on who he compares himself to!

Brian
10-23-2005, 11:54 AM
Opinions are like........


well you all know.

317Kim
10-23-2005, 11:55 AM
It is not a frightening prospect, though Artest was responsible for the ugliest mark on the face of the NBA, the brutal brawl last Nov. 19 in Auburn Hills, Mich.,

I think by now we all know what happend and when it happend :rolleyes:


"Jermaine is my leader," Artest says. "He's Stephen's leader. Stephen is my leader, [Austin] Croshere is my leader, Jamaal is my leader. I do what they say and chip in.
Nice to know that there's no jelousy b/w who's a leader and who's the leader.
Thanks for posting the article!

Anthem
10-23-2005, 12:00 PM
Is Stephen Jackson really a "vile" trash talker?

BostonConnection
10-23-2005, 12:07 PM
I usually like Sam Smith but this is an awful article. He writes it in a way that analyzes Artest as if he isn't human. If I was Ron I'd be pissed off that I gave my time for an article like this.

There are some writers who seem to have a bug up their you-know-what when it comes to writing about certain players. For Sam Smith that guy is Artest - always has been (going back to Artest's Bulls days), always will be. I'm actually surprised that Ron consented to doing an interview with Smith, but I'm not at all surprised at the tone of the article.

Harmonica
10-23-2005, 12:08 PM
Is Stephen Jackson really a "vile" trash talker?

Only if his trash-talking is the culinary equivalent of The Cheesecake Factory. ;)

Jermaniac
10-23-2005, 12:30 PM
Is Stephen Jackson really a "vile" trash talker?That suprised me I never see Jack talking on the court to the other teams players.

Pacers#1Fan
10-23-2005, 12:44 PM
Well.......... that was interesting.

I didn't know SJax was one of the biggest trash talkers in the NBA.
I didn't know JO's rep was one of a lazy superstar.
I didn't know that the Pacers were looked at as a team that might destroy each other at any moment.I don't take these articles very seriously. We know how the Pacers function and we know what we are capable of. This is our year.

ChicagoJ
10-23-2005, 01:23 PM
I think Sam Smith knows Ron much better than about any other NBA reporter.

Both from talking to him, and more importantly as Jerry Krause's occasional mouthpiece.

++++++

I used to not think very highly of Sam Smith. Then I was having a conversation with David Benner over the summer - Dave and my parents are members of the same golf course - I don't get any "inside" info from him but I've talked to him occasionally.

I reminded David that, like David, I used to get a really late lunch at the Noble Romans on Penn. Street across from the city market. Many times, it was just David and I in the restaurant, and I'd leave him alone except to say "good luck tonight" on the days of big games.

Anyway, David told me that every time Sam was in town, he'd insist on Noble Romans for lunch. So that go me thinking, maybe he's not as dumb as I thought...

This article was typical Sam Smith - full of venom and enough truth to be thought-provoking, but nowhere near the quality of entertainment in his venom as Vecsey.

indytoad
10-23-2005, 02:21 PM
Well.......... that was interesting.

I didn't know SJax was one of the biggest trash talkers in the NBA.
I didn't know JO's rep was one of a lazy superstar.
I didn't know that the Pacers were looked at as a team that might destroy each other at any moment.I don't take these articles very seriously. We know how the Pacers function and we know what we are capable of. This is our year.

What are you talking about? The last two have been talked about for years.

IndyToad
Woooeeee...scary

Jermaniac
10-23-2005, 02:39 PM
Ohh yes Jermaine is very lazy, from playing basektball year round with the Pacers and the US team, to adding 20 pounds of muscle last season, and this year getting all the players 2 weeks early so they can work out. Very lazy.

317Kim
10-23-2005, 03:15 PM
Ohh yes Jermaine is very lazy, from playing basektball year round with the Pacers and the US team, to adding 20 pounds of muscle last season, and this year getting all the players 2 weeks early so they can work out. Very lazy.

:nod: thanks for pointing that out! I knew he was lazy but NEVER that lazy. ;) :rolleyes:

Frank Slade
10-23-2005, 04:24 PM
Ohh yes Jermaine is very lazy, from playing basektball year round with the Pacers and the US team, to adding 20 pounds of muscle last season, and this year getting all the players 2 weeks early so they can work out. Very lazy.


Wow that is some lazy stuff right there.....
Yeah it always funny how some incorrect perspectives are formed and then everyone seems to pile on , for whatever reason.

Natston
10-24-2005, 06:12 AM
Ohh yes Jermaine is very lazy, from playing basektball year round with the Pacers and the US team, to adding 20 pounds of muscle last season, and this year getting all the players 2 weeks early so they can work out. Very lazy.

I think is was more directed towards his rebounding and the overused fadeaway jumper...

Harddrive7
10-24-2005, 10:05 AM
I think by now we all know what happend and when it happend :rolleyes:

No kidding, if I never see another mention of that day it will be too soon.

Harddrive7
10-24-2005, 10:11 AM
I think is was more directed towards his rebounding and the overused fadeaway jumper...

I wouldn't say that JO is lazy. I don't think that he has that certain toughness inside as some big guys. I think he is more of a finesse player. That's why he is trying these turn around, fade away, make a cup of tea, jump hooks that make you cringe everytime he starts in motion.

Lazy? No. Tries to do too much around the basket opposed to underneath? very much so.

This also could be so he won't get injured banging inside as well.