View Full Version : SacBee promotes new drama

01-10-2006, 11:54 AM



01-10-2006, 01:55 PM
Sacbee requires a registration.

Can you post the articles?

Frank Slade
01-10-2006, 02:04 PM
I believe this is the story was posted by UB on Sunday

01-10-2006, 02:11 PM
Sacbee requires a registration.

Can you post the articles?

UB posted the article, just not the picture. Or I didn't see it.

I didn't know Sacbee required registration. I don't remember ever registering.

Big-time talent, bigger headache
Ron Artest frustrates the Pacers to the point of no return
By Joe Davidson -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, January 8, 2006

Jilted at the altar.

Stood up by a leading man and left with wilted flowers and broken promises. Pelted with a stink bomb.

That's what it felt like for the Indiana Pacers. The Ron Artest saga - equal parts drama, despair and destruction - and once confined within the organization now has become the Ron Ripple Effect, leaguewide.

With Artest stashed away on the inactive list like a bundle of trouble, out of harm's way, the Pacers frantically work the phones in an effort to deal one of the NBA's best players. He's also one of the NBA's most troubled talents, making for one complex package. They look forward to shedding his name and image, to bandage up the gash and march forward.

But Artest looms. They can't escape him. He's not in the locker room, he's not with the team as it heads into Arco Arena tonight, yet his name comes up every 54 seconds or so, and never accompanied by appreciation. Clenched jaws and raw emotions? Plenty of that.

"Considering what we've gone through, with Ron asking to get out of here, I don't know how many teams could deal with it," Pacers All-Star center Jermaine O'Neal said. "You've got a city on fire about it, an organization on fire about it. Last year was something no pro team has ever had to deal with, the brawl and the suspensions, and it's still lingering. We stuck by Ron, and then he said he didn't want to be here. That was the last straw. That was just it. When you say you don't want to be with your team, that you want to play somewhere else, that's a fine line you cannot cross in pro sports.

"You've got guys here in the locker room who totally don't appreciate it. We've got to move on."

Artest forever will be linked to that brawl, in which he barreled into the stands at Detroit early last season to ignite one of the most horrific scenes in sports history. He was slapped with a 73-game suspension and a sullen reputation. Until the Pacers can rid themselves of Artest, they also will be linked to that incident.

Time seemed to be a sound remedy. After an offseason of good vibes, of being mutually embraced by the franchise, the fans and his teammates and an encouraging early season, Artest reached for the stink bomb. Before talking to his teammates, he told the Indianapolis Star last month that he wanted to be traded, that his past haunts him. Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said he felt "betrayed."

By the time Artest tried to take it all back, it was too late.

He'd fractured a franchise.

In his wake, Artest has left a team already besieged with injuries and illness staggering to right itself, to hold onto the railing. The Pacers have gone 7-6 since Artest last played Dec. 6, and Thursday's inspired triumph at Golden State moved them to 17-13. By the time the Pacers return home Wednesday from their current four-game road trip, Artest could be gone.

Any number of teams are interested in acquiring the former Defensive Player of the Year, though the Kings don't appear to be one of them.

"We're talking to teams, but to say we're going to put a date on it, we're not," Bird told the Star in Saturday editions. "We're getting some good offers, but we're talking about an All-Star player."

The Pacers insist they'll be patient, making sure they get the right deal before the trade deadline Feb. 23.

Indianapolis is an NBA city much like Sacramento - a small market, painstakingly loyal. Pacers fans, like Kings supporters, stick by their players - until they get stuck back. Fans wore "Free Artest" shirts last season. They welcomed back the 6-foot-7, 260-pound forward, as formidable as a boulder and as versatile as any player in the game, with ovations when this season started. Now they're ready to take any warm body in exchange.

"He dumped on all of us, and you don't do that to fans like us," Richard Morris, 54, a Pacers follower for 25 years, said in an e-mail. "The Artest thing makes us look stupid. It's over with him."

"The fans were disappointed," said Pacers center Scot Pollard, a former King. "Can't blame them. The fans feel cheated out of their money. We've really struggled at times this year. It's always exciting in Pacer-land, never a dull moment."

Said Pacers president Donnie Walsh: "Our fans, they were taken back by Ronnie saying all that. It's been hard. I'm proud of how our players and coaches are hanging in there. They did that last year, and that situation was even worse."

Walsh said every team faces some sort of adversity. Somehow, the Pacers went through the crash-course line twice.

Indiana bounded into this season poised to make a championship run. All the pieces were in order, with O'Neal at center and Stephen Jackson on the wing and Rick Carlisle the coach. The question, of course, was Artest's frame of mind. Players approached Bird and asked him to keep the core together. Bird was on the same page. He even did a fall Sports Illustrated cover shoot with Artest, with Bird explaining that all seemed well again, that Artest was worth the gamble, that he was such a marvelous talent he'd even pay to watch him play. Talk about the ultimate SI jinx.

O'Neal, anointed the new team leader after Reggie Miller retired last season, made it clear Artest wasn't welcomed back after his latest stint. He stands by that now, with conviction. So do his teammates.

You can't find a Pacer who doesn't like Artest the person. They just don't like what he has to say.

"He's not a bad guy, but he's an emotional guy, as many of us are," Pollard said. "His fault is he says things before he thinks it out and thinks about any repercussions. Other than that, he wants to play hard and do his job, and there's no question the guy can play."

Said Walsh: "I feel bad for Ronnie. He speaks before he thinks. I'll never be mad at Ronnie, but sometimes I feel bad for him."

O'Neal said he'll never figure out Artest.

"Stephen Jackson and I, we've been through everything Ronnie's been through, every courtroom, everything to do with that brawl. I talked to Ron for a long time. Tried to understand. Told him I wished him the best of luck, that I think he's going to be fine. I would have loved to have seen it happen here, but it didn't."

Carlisle has done his best work, amazingly, with Artest out of the fold, last season and now. He has drawn high praise around the league and from his own bench and bosses.

"I can't imagine what he's going through," O'Neal said. "He's got the toughest job in pro sports, but he finds a way to keep things going."

Has the Artest saga sucked any fun out of coaching the Pacers?

"Depends on your definition of fun," Carlisle said. "When you sign up to be an NBA head coach, you always hope it's straight-up basketball. We've had some tough challenges. We're dealing with it, simple as that. They're not going to reschedule games because we've got things going on. That's something we found out last year. The Artest situation will resolve itself. The only thing I'll say is I'm disappointed the way it went down because I'm one of his biggest supporters."

O'Neal, meanwhile, is eager to get back into the mix. He's the most visible man on the roster again, the best player with the largest contract forced to pick up the slack, as he did most of last season when Artest was suspended. He missed three games with pneumonia, managed to crawl out of bed Thursday afternoon and take a private jet to Oakland to join his team. In street clothes, he offered smiles and support as the Pacers polished off the Warriors 99-89, barely 24 hours after getting battered at Denver 106-86.

The healing, O'Neal said, may have already started.

"The guys have been really professional about all this," said O'Neal, who hopes to play tonight against the Kings. "That's the reason I wanted to get out here, to get out of the house, to be with the guys. It means a lot. My personality with the guys gave them a boost, and they give me a boost."

Link is in the first post