View Full Version : Simons love Artest, this might explain a few things

01-29-2006, 08:59 AM
The quote from Larry Bird is towards the end of this article. And before any of you suggest well Bird has to say that. Not now, the trade has gone through, Bird either could have left the Simons out of it altogether or if the Simons didn't like Artest, there is no reason to lie now.

Maybe the Simon's were one big reason why we stuck with ron as long as we did


Stojakovic knows how to start over
Newest Pacer has already had to change sports and flee from a civil war
By Mark Montieth
January 29, 2006

He took up the game at 13, turned professional at 16 and was a first-round NBA draft pick at 19.
In other words, Peja Stojakovic caught on to basketball quickly.

The newest Indiana Pacer, who will make his debut Tuesday at Washington, brings a unique basketball heritage, one with more than enough drama to make up for his late start.

His drama tends to remain in the past, however, which could come as a relief to the Pacers and their fans.
Stojakovic grew up in Pozega, a small border city in Yugoslavia, but his family was forced to flee for Belgrade when civil war ravaged the region.

There, having grown too tall to excel in soccer, he was introduced to basketball. Three years later, already sporting a reputation as an outstanding shooter, he moved to Greece to play professionally for PAOK Thessaloniki.
Just like that.

"I had a talent that I didn't know that I had," he said. "I kind of got addicted to basketball. I just felt good about it. I kind of (found) myself."

Now 28, Stojakovic finds himself starting over again. He was a fixture in Sacramento, wildly popular in the community for his achievements -- most notably three All-Star appearances -- and charity work. The Kings, like the Pacers, went through a stretch in which they contended for an NBA championship but couldn't take the ultimate steps. Now he merely ranks as the fourth departed starter from their glory days, following Chris Webber, Vlade Divac and Doug Christie.

His reputation was taking a hit this season as the team declined and blame was assessed. Struck by nagging injuries and playing with a team in transition, his scoring average slipped to 16.5 points after he had averaged more than 20 points in four of the previous five seasons.

"This year in Sacramento wasn't pretty," he said. "We were never able to find ourselves. We were never able to have the identity we had in past years. It was a mixture of everything."

Still, there have been occasional reminders of his ability to light up scoreboards, such as when he scored a season-high 33 points in the season's third game at Phoenix, 23 in the third quarter.

Despite the need for change, the trade was difficult for Kings coach Rick Adelman, who faces growing criticism himself.

"I've been with Peja for 71/2 years, so it was very difficult for me to make this trade," Adelman said. "He's like the last guy. Guys have been going and going, and now Peja.
"People have been acting like he's not a good player. He's only a three-time All-Star, and he was second-team all-league two years ago. So he's a good player."

Pacers president Larry Bird agrees. Bird, who once called Stojakovic the best shooter in the NBA, was in favor of an Artest-for-Peja trade following the 2003-04 season.

Stojakovic had earned second-team All-NBA honors that season. Artest was a third-team selection and Defensive Player of the Year, but his erratic showing in the Eastern Conference finals had planted doubts in Bird's mind.

Bird looked into a trade, but neither the Kings nor Pacers owners Herb and Mel Simon were interested at the time.

"I would have recommended it, but we've got owners who love Ron Artest," Bird said. "Our owners to this day love Ron Artest."

The landscape changed about 10 days ago, when the frustration of the Maloof family, who own the Kings, reached a tipping point. George, who runs the family's casino and condominium interests in Las Vegas, instigated the transaction with a phone call to brothers Joe and Gavin.

"We had been going back and forth," Gavin recalled before Friday's game in Boston, where Artest made his debut with the Kings. "George finally said, 'Let's take a chance.' I got on the phone and talked to Joe and we decided to call (general manager Geoff Petrie) and get this trade done."

The transition, which includes moving his pregnant wife and infant son to Indianapolis, will be difficult for Stojakovic. But it's nothing compared to fleeing a civil war. He often heard gunfire at home, and his father's grocery store was burned to the ground before his family fled to Greece.

He has started over before, at a much younger age and in far more unfamiliar places. Here, he knows Sarunas Jasikevicius from having competed against him in Europe. He also knows the Pacers' international scout, Misho Ostarcevic, and has met Serbian natives on trips to Indianapolis for games.

In the bigger picture of his life, there is little drama for him now.

"I don't think it's going to be a problem," he said, with the voice of experience.

Roaming Gnome
01-29-2006, 10:16 AM
Sounds like Ron Artest endeared himself to everyone in the organization. Almost like cutting off that loser brother-in-law that can't help himself...sorry, hitting a little close to home there!

I hope the Maloofs are heavily invested in "teflon" because Ronnie will have you ending up with a lot of "Egg on your face". :rimshot: :sorry:

01-29-2006, 10:17 AM
Appears the driving force in the trade with Sacramento was ownership too. It's the Maloof boys who were apparently aggressively seeking Ron.

01-29-2006, 10:32 AM
We all know that Ron the person and Ron the basketball player are two completely different creatures.

At least I think we all know that by now ...

01-29-2006, 11:45 AM
We all know that Ron the person and Ron the basketball player are two completely different creatures.

At least I think we all know that by now ...
Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll

01-29-2006, 01:39 PM
Good find, Uncle Buck. I think this adds a lot of understanding to the whole saga.