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Frank Slade
12-12-2005, 09:00 PM
MSNBC.com

Artest doing his best T.O. impression

But Pacers discovered cancer early and will be way better off than Eagles


By Michael Ventre

NBCSports.com contributor

Updated: 5:10 p.m. ET Dec. 12, 2005


Well, it’s official. Ron Artest is the Terrell Owens of the NBA.

It was touch and go there for a while. I thought there was a chance Artest would be chastened by the embarrassment of the brawl, and devote himself to becoming a better person and a better teammate.

I thought maybe all his run-ins with officials over the years, and his declaration that he wanted to take time off to promote a CD that he produced, were simply the antics of a spirited young man who needed maturity and direction, and that he had finally settled upon a path of redemption. Wrong!

Last weekend, Artest let it be known to The Indianapolis Star and others that he wanted to be traded, preferably to the New York Knicks. He made it sound as if it would be the best thing for his team, the Indiana Pacers, since “I’m so demanding of the ball. It’s not my fault. Every time somebody is on me it’s a mismatch. It messes up the offense.” Nice touch by Artest to throw in an altruistic wrinkle to his selfish demands. Transparent and laughable, but nice.


On Monday in response, Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said he would attempt to accommodate Artest, saying that the player’s trade request wasn’t the only factor in wanting to move him. Explained Walsh: “This is kind of the last straw of a lot of issues, and it’s at the point where we should look for a trade.”

Obviously, Walsh reads newspapers and magazines, watches television and peruses the internet. Because he appears to be fully versed in the T.O. situation and is determined not to let that happen to his franchise.

In this case, the Pacers discovered the cancer early, and the prognosis is favorable.


It’s a bit irritating that someone like Artest can get his way by using the media to burn a bridge and force his employers’ hands. The temptation is to wish that the Pacers would stick it to him by exiling him to the bench, or making him serve a suspension. That would show him, right?


Not really. With someone as incorrigible as Ron Artest, all it would do is embolden him to commit future acts of insubordination. He would fester like an open gash.


Although it appears he has already alienated teammates, most notably superstar Jermaine O’Neal, by his disruptive behavior, keeping him around would further poison the locker room atmosphere of a team that should be in contention for the Eastern Conference crown.


Keeping Artest around would create a blizzard of controversy, much like the escalation of tensions that occurred with T.O. in Philly. All that’s missing here is Drew Rosenhaus snapping, “Next question.”

To his credit, Walsh is recognizing this fairly early. Certainly, he could have recognized it even earlier, before Artest reestablished himself last weekend as a troublemaker. But so far the damage isn’t too great, and there are still nitwits out there gullible enough to think Artest can be rehabilitated into becoming a model employee.

If Walsh does place a call to Isiah Thomas in New York – who, incidentally, is the perfect recipient of this miscreant, because Isiah has never met a problem child he didn’t like – what exactly would he get in return? At least talent-wise, Artest is one of the best all-around players in the NBA. He can score and he can defend equally well. The Pacers would have to get value in return.

So what is that on the Knicks’ roster? Stephon Marbury? Please, I just ate a little while ago.Jamal Crawford? Channing Frye? Eddy Curry? A package of players and draft picks?

Getting rid of Artest is the easy decision. What to demand in return is a brutal question, and a significant one, because Walsh doesn’t want to appear as if he caved in to Artest’s request and then got the short end of a deal to boot.


Whatever the outcome, the Pacers will be the better for it. As in the case of the Eagles, if one player gets so out of tune with the team concept, it can destroy an entire franchise. The Eagles are where they are primarily because of Donovan McNabb’s injury. But they would have been damaged anyway, even with McNabb’s presence, because the T.O. brouhaha splintered the team into factions and eliminated the focus on the ultimate goal of a Super Bowl victory.


There is time for the 12-7 Pacers to draw even with their archrivals in the East, the 15-2 Detroit Pistons. It may seem unlikely, given the roll the Pistons are currently on under Flip Saunders, and considering Detroit’s excellent team chemistry. But if the Pacers get a comparable player in return for Artest — remember, he can be dealt elsewhere; it doesn’t have to be the Knicks – they can still make a run at the Eastern title.

Maybe the Pacers should trade him to Portland. Even if they don’t get equal value in return, it’ll still be entertaining to watch the mushroom cloud.


Meanwhile, whichever team takes on Artest is in for a peck of trouble. He’ll proclaim that he’s reborn, that he’s rejuvenated, that he appreciates the fresh start and will dedicate himself to helping his new team win a championship.

Yet just like T.O. is T.O., Artest is Artest. He will always assess the world in terms of how it benefits him. He’s an attention junkie. At the first sign of dissatisfaction, Artest will cause more trouble. He’ll vent his frustrations to the media and make new demands. He may even ask for another trade.

That’s when Donnie Walsh can cast an eye toward Philadelphia and be thankful he was perceptive enough to tell which way the wind was blowing.



Michael Ventre writes regularly for NBCSports.com and is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10440594/

hmm even Peck get's a mention in here ?

indytoad
12-12-2005, 09:05 PM
In this case, the Pacers discovered the cancer early, and the prognosis is favorable.

Wait, what?

IndyToad
I think not

sweabs
12-12-2005, 09:07 PM
This is considered "early"?

ChicagoJ
12-12-2005, 09:12 PM
Early would've been the stupid foul behind the play in Phoenix two weeks after the Jalen Rose trade. Or when he punted the ball into the stands in Toronto.

Or even during the flagrant foul infested season.

Or even during the benchings for "conduct detrimental to winning" during Rick's first season with the Pacers.

This ain't early. And one could argue that he's already cost us two good chances to get to The Finals.

++++++++++

Rimfire, ignore everything I just said. Ron's going to really turn it around for Zeke and Brownie. Just you watch...

:devil:

Unclebuck
12-12-2005, 09:12 PM
I really don't see the connection between T.O and Ronnie.

Has Ronnie criticized his teammates, or the teams management. No

Aw Heck
12-12-2005, 09:13 PM
This is considered "early"?

Apparently the columnist thinks Artest can do MORE damage. I can't imagine he can do much worse to another team. Then again, I was wrong about Ron before.

Unclebuck
12-12-2005, 09:23 PM
No, but he has done just as much damage.

He has screwed the franchise over in getting anything of anybody in return for Ron.



Well the NBA is different from the NFL just in the number of players, so one player in the NBA can make a huge difference.

We'll see what the Pacers get for Ronnie. We might be pleasantly surprised

ABADays
12-12-2005, 10:10 PM
I really don't see the connection between T.O and Ronnie.

Has Ronnie criticized his teammates, or the teams management. No

Ruining one season and possibly two is enough for me UB.