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Peck
01-30-2006, 05:21 PM
Where is Uncle Bucks heartfelt goodbye to Ron Artest thread that we were promised?

It's probably hiding alongside the Mea Culpa post that Anthem promised us about the big red flagg post.;)

Pacersfan46
01-30-2006, 05:22 PM
Like mine, it probably disappeared when he nixed the trade at first.

ChicagoJ
01-30-2006, 05:22 PM
I've been thinking the same thing.

:buddies:

btowncolt
01-30-2006, 05:29 PM
Buck did a 180 on writing it.

I can't think of a more fitting tribute.

8.9_seconds
01-30-2006, 05:37 PM
I've been wondering also, it's why I haven't written one, it would pale in comparison.

Pacesetter
01-30-2006, 06:21 PM
Where is Uncle Bucks heartfelt goodbye to Ron Artest thread that we were promised?

It's probably hiding alongside the Mea Culpa post that Anthem promised us about the big red flagg post.;)

:laugh:

Pig Nash
01-30-2006, 06:29 PM
I wrote one, but no one read/commented on it. It was kind of long and stated the obvious. That's probably why

Anthem
01-30-2006, 09:28 PM
Yeah, first I said I'd wait to write mine until the trade went down. Then this week has been crazy busy.

You'll get it, I promise.

Unclebuck
01-30-2006, 10:20 PM
I haven't forgotten about it, but there are two reasons why I haven't written it. Well really 3 reasons.

1) I don't think anyone wants to read it. I know most of you are sick and tired of Ronnie, and that is why anytime I want to post something about Ron, I post it on Kingsfansforum. If you notice I haven't posted a word about Ron Artest in several days in here. I figure 95% of you just don't want to read it. And I can understand those sentiments.

2) For whatever reason I haven't felt like writing it. Maybe I've written everything I have to say on Ron over the years.

3) I really haven't had much time to write something like that, I could just throw something together, but if I do write it, I would want it to be at least decent.

So right now I am not planning on writing it. But it seems like there might be some demand for it. I really don't know what approach to take, what slant to put on it. Maybe I need to see a few Pacers games, and let things settle down a little. The strange thing is Ron has played so little the past season and a half, it just doesn't seem strange that he's gone.

So all I can say is stay tuned.

Bball
01-30-2006, 10:28 PM
So all I can say is stay tuned.

I'd like to read it.

-Bball

Jermaniac
01-30-2006, 10:29 PM
I would read it too UB

wooolus
01-30-2006, 10:53 PM
So right now I am not planning on writing it. But it seems like there might be some demand for it. I really don't know what approach to take, what slant to put on it. Maybe I need to see a few Pacers games, and let things settle down a little. The strange thing is Ron has played so little the past season and a half, it just doesn't seem strange that he's gone.


This who thing reminded me of this:

Janice, I apologize to you if I don't seem real eager to jump into a forced awkward intimate situation that people like to call dating. I don't like the feeling. You're sitting there, you're wondering do I have food on my face, am I eating, am I talking too much, are they talking enough, am I interested I'm not really interested, should I play like I'm interested but I'm not that interested but I think she might be interested but do I want to be interested but now she's not interested? So all of the sudden I'm getting, I'm starting to get interested... And when am I supposed to kiss her? Do I have to wait for the door cause then it's awkward, it's like well goodnight. Do you do like that ***-out hug? Where you like, you hug each other like this and your *** sticks out cause you're trying not to get too close or do you just go right in and kiss them on the lips or don't kiss them at all? It's very difficult trying to read the situation. And all the while you're just really wondering are we gonna get hopped up enough to make some bad decisions? Perhaps play a little game called "just the tip". Just for a second, just to see how it feels. Or, ouch, ouch you're on my hair. -Jeremy Grey (Wedding Crashers)

Peck
01-31-2006, 01:03 AM
I haven't forgotten about it, but there are two reasons why I haven't written it. Well really 3 reasons.

1) I don't think anyone wants to read it. I know most of you are sick and tired of Ronnie, and that is why anytime I want to post something about Ron, I post it on Kingsfansforum. If you notice I haven't posted a word about Ron Artest in several days in here. I figure 95% of you just don't want to read it. And I can understand those sentiments.

2) For whatever reason I haven't felt like writing it. Maybe I've written everything I have to say on Ron over the years.

3) I really haven't had much time to write something like that, I could just throw something together, but if I do write it, I would want it to be at least decent.

So right now I am not planning on writing it. But it seems like there might be some demand for it. I really don't know what approach to take, what slant to put on it. Maybe I need to see a few Pacers games, and let things settle down a little. The strange thing is Ron has played so little the past season and a half, it just doesn't seem strange that he's gone.

So all I can say is stay tuned.

For my part, I think I need this for closure.

It all seems anti-climatic at the moment.

Harmonica
01-31-2006, 02:14 AM
For my part, I think I need this for closure.

It all seems anti-climatic at the moment.

That's because it is. I wonder how people would have reacted had Ron never made the trade demand, but was traded anyway.

I would have felt the same way I do now.

Peck
01-31-2006, 03:52 AM
That's because it is. I wonder how people would have reacted had Ron never made the trade demand, but was traded anyway.

I would have felt the same way I do now.


This is exactly why I thank God every day for Ron going on Fox & for Mike Wells.

While you & I & others would have always been fine with this, there are many more who would have been howling at the moon like wolves if the Pacers would have just traded him away.

As it is now, only those who are so far along in being Artest fans that they no longer have any reasonable thoughts in thier heads regarding him are against any trade.

We shoud be gratefull that on the PD all of our Artest fans have seen the light.

Even Suaveness & U.B. came out & accepted this.

That doesn't mean they don't like him as a player but they understand that it was never going to work here.

I'm not even sure if the team would have moved Ron if he hadn't gone public. Sure Bird is making that statement now, but words are cheap.

Either way, it no longer matters.

He's gone & now we can start the healing.

ChicagoJ
01-31-2006, 10:36 AM
-snip- He's gone & now we can start the healing.

Unfortunately, Donnie, Isiah, Larry and Rick let the wounds fester so long and so deep... the chemo may take a long time and may, at times, feel worse than the cancer.

That's the real kicker to all of this - the four-year expiriment should've been stopped much, much earlier because now this team may be much closer to the lottery than contending. I'll say it again, Al's starting spot should never have been giftwrapped for Ron and he should never have been that contract extension - Ron's the player that should've been "last in line" of the six free agents in 2003 (not Brad Miller).

But now, it appears the cancer spread to other organs, including perhaps a good functioning PG and certainly a hotheaded, streaky swingman.

At some point in the past, they could've cut their losses on Ron and moved on without totally overhauling the team. They would've had a void to fill at SF, of course, but that was actually resolved in last season's draft. Now many of us think TPTB are fooling themselves if they think they're done trading. Of course, all they've really said is that they don't prefer to do any more in-season trades. Perhaps they have already resigned themselved to blowing the team apart this summer but realize they won't like the options that are available to them at the deadline.

MagicRat
01-31-2006, 11:33 AM
While we all wait, I'll offer an encore presentation of my Ron Farewell Tribute video......:tap:

http://prometheus.able-towers.com/~magicrat/rontribute.wmv

burnzone
01-31-2006, 11:43 AM
Great work, as always, MR, that was hilarious

Unclebuck
01-31-2006, 11:46 AM
Jay, so everything bad with the Pacers started with Ron - he is responsible for everything.

What about the Pacers being only a 45 win team without Ron to begin with and the only reason they were a 61 wein team for one season was because of Ron's great play. Take him off that team and they win 45 games.

Doug in CO
01-31-2006, 11:50 AM
Jay, so everything bad with the Pacers started with Ron - he is responsible for everything.

What about the Pacers being only a 45 win team without Ron to begin with and the only reason they were a 61 wein team for one season was because of Ron's great play. Take him off that team and they win 45 games.

What he said

ChicagoJ
01-31-2006, 12:04 PM
They were still rebuilding. That was a very young, immature, poorly coached team.

And there's always the Isiah factor.

They solved a few problems, and created an even bigger one.

Even after winning 61 games, there was a major meltdown that began in Miami series and plagued the team against Detroit. And we still don't talk about some of the goofy things that happened that season that were pushed to the backburned because the team was winning. Can we talk about Rick's decision just a few weeks into the job that he and Ron couldn't communicate? Remember, Ron was benched for conduct detrimental to winning that season. Can we talk about the goof circumstances around Ron's surgery, and the decision Ron conviently made without the team doctor's consent right after the ASG?

That team was anything but happy. 61 wins was a mirage. The high-water mark. As good as that team was capable of playing. They peaked. In Fleetwood Mac terminology, that was their "Rumour" album and then all of the internal turmoil that has been repressed has been flooding out the gates ever since.

So what if Ron gave you an extra 16 regular season wins that season? I'd rather have that team at 45 wins without Ron and then build the team correctly, on a solid foundation. Because now the team is probably much worse than a 45 win season.

You still think that injecting the cancer into the body was worth the risk because you enjoyed the early stages of the mutated creation. But there is a price to pay for taking such a high-stakes risk.

Peck
01-31-2006, 01:36 PM
Jay, so everything bad with the Pacers started with Ron - he is responsible for everything.

What about the Pacers being only a 45 win team without Ron to begin with and the only reason they were a 61 wein team for one season was because of Ron's great play. Take him off that team and they win 45 games.


Death, Taxes & Uncle Buck falling back on his Magical 61 win season.

Let's assume you are correct, let's make that a 45 win season. That's still good enough to make the playoffs & it still probably good enough to lose to the Pistons in 6.

You do realize that when Ron did not play that season we had a better record with Al Harrington starting % wise than we did with Ron don't you?

Either way your barking up the wrong tree with me when it comes to talking about that season. I thought that was one of the most boring teams to watch that we've ever had. Other than the wins, I just didn't think much of that team.

Gyron
01-31-2006, 01:50 PM
Great Great video tribute MR. Thanks for that!

btowncolt
01-31-2006, 01:56 PM
Wow, that was great MagicRat.

What context did that picture of Ron comparing me to a cup come about?

Harmonica
01-31-2006, 02:04 PM
Jay, so everything bad with the Pacers started with Ron - he is responsible for everything.

What about the Pacers being only a 45 win team without Ron to begin with and the only reason they were a 61 wein team for one season was because of Ron's great play. Take him off that team and they win 45 games.

Naw. Your logic is flawed. Ron was there the previous season. JO was there. Tins was there. Reggie, Al, etc. Rick was the primary difference, not Ron. The team didn't experience a sudden burst of maturity over the course of one summer.

MagicRat
01-31-2006, 02:23 PM
Wow, that was great MagicRat.

What context did that picture of Ron comparing me to a cup come about?

That's directly from the original www.freebtown.com (http://www.freebtown.com) thread:

http://www.pacersdigest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8711

:woot2:

Harmonica
01-31-2006, 02:25 PM
I could only play 27% of your video. Disappointing. It keeps stopping on the Ron with the DJ picture.

Unclebuck
01-31-2006, 02:26 PM
Naw. Your logic is flawed. Ron was there the previous season. JO was there. Tins was there. Reggie, Al, etc. Rick was the primary difference, not Ron. The team didn't experience a sudden burst of maturity over the course of one summer.


My only point is IMO the only reason the Pacers were any good (Since 2000) to begin with was because of Ron's play. It wasn't like if Ron just was not on the team they would have been great, that is simply not true.

Harmonica
01-31-2006, 02:33 PM
My only point is IMO the only reason the Pacers were any good (Since 2000) to begin with was because of Ron's play. It wasn't like if Ron just was not on the team they would have been great, that is simply not true.

Well, we could put King Kong down in the low post and we'd be a better team, but after he ate the Wallaces and had JO for desert, where would we be? I'm just kidding, UB. I have no idea where the logic is in that. Maybe Jay or Peck can pull something from it.

Peck
01-31-2006, 02:53 PM
My only point is IMO the only reason the Pacers were any good (Since 2000) to begin with was because of Ron's play. It wasn't like if Ron just was not on the team they would have been great, that is simply not true.


The ONLY reason?????

Hmmmm.......:chin:

You've asked me before & I honestly dodged the quesiton.

but you've just admitted this yourself so I am going to ask you straight up.

Do you not like Jermaine O'Neal?

By saying Ron was the only reason that implies (well actually it doesn't imply it comes out & says it) that nobody else was good enough.

That doesn't say much about a player who is making Max. salary.

I'll stop avoiding the issue if you answer this for me.;)

Will Galen
01-31-2006, 03:29 PM
Either way your barking up the wrong tree with me when it comes to talking about that season. I thought that was one of the most boring teams to watch that we've ever had. Other than the wins, I just didn't think much of that team.

There was this man that had a steak dinner. It was the best steak dinner he ever had.* When he was asked how it was he complained, "They forgot the garnishment."




*Sixty-one wins is the best Pacer season ever.

Doug
01-31-2006, 03:36 PM
There was this man that had a steak dinner. It was the best steak dinner he ever had.* When he was asked how it was he complained, "They forgot the garnishment."




*Sixty-one wins is the best Pacer season ever.

Except that the championship is the steak. The 61 wins should be the garnishment.

Will Galen
01-31-2006, 03:55 PM
Except that the championship is the steak. The 61 wins should be the garnishment.

Nice sound bite, but the conversation was about 61 wins.

My story makes a point.

Your comment was . . . just that, a comment.

Unclebuck
01-31-2006, 03:59 PM
The ONLY reason?????

Hmmmm.......:chin:

You've asked me before & I honestly dodged the quesiton.

but you've just admitted this yourself so I am going to ask you straight up.

Do you not like Jermaine O'Neal?

By saying Ron was the only reason that implies (well actually it doesn't imply it comes out & says it) that nobody else was good enough.

That doesn't say much about a player who is making Max. salary.

I'll stop avoiding the issue if you answer this for me.;)


Perhaps I did explain myself very well. Obviosly Ron is not the only reason they won 61 games, maybe Ron and Jeff are the only two reasons. No, just kidding. Obviously all the players were needed. Ron was the most important player, J.O second, so he was very important.

But without Ron that team does not win 61 games. Some of you seem to think if only Ron wasn't on the team they would have been great. And that is simply not true.

Do I like J.O. Yes I do. He is lazy sometimes and he is injured a lot and he rarely blocks out, but I don't agree with Bball that the Pacers are better without J.O. Pacers need J.O. to be anything better than average.

Doug
01-31-2006, 04:31 PM
Nice sound bite, but the conversation was about 61 wins.

My story makes a point.

Your comment was . . . just that, a comment.

Actually, mine makes a point too, just not the same one you were making. Both are relevant, I think. Your point to Peck is "who cares if it's boring or not, appreciate the beauty of a 61 win season". Mine was that 61 regular season wins don't mean much if you don't win the championship.

But yes, I think we can agree it was a nice sound bite. :-)

Bball
01-31-2006, 04:32 PM
Do I like J.O. Yes I do. He is lazy sometimes and he is injured a lot and he rarely blocks out, but I don't agree with Bball that the Pacers are better without J.O. Pacers need J.O. to be anything better than average.

...Either JO needs to raise his game to another level, or the team needs to rethink their utilization of JO (altho since he's injured it's a moot point right now).

On the Artest thing.... I sincerely hope that conventional wisdom is correct and Ron could never be tamed or be a good teammate (that his good play was really fool's gold and the reality being his next incident would be just around the corner).

I have no problem agreeing with Uncle Buck that Artest was the straw that stirred the Pacers.

If we find out that some teammate understanding, and making him the clear #1 guy, was the answer to all the question marks then we've certainly screwed the pooch.

OTOH, if conventional wisdom is correct then we waited far too long to make this move.

-Bball

ChicagoJ
01-31-2006, 04:37 PM
You guys are seriously underestimating the impact of Jermaine O'Neal, who was a top-three MVP candidate that season, and Jamaal Tinsley, who had a tremendous W-L record as the team's starting PG that season.

When they got hurt, that season was over, period. Ron, even if he was healthy mentally, still wasn't/ isn't that good.

The revisionist history is entertaining, however.

Bball
01-31-2006, 04:39 PM
You guys are seriously underestimating the impact of Jermaine O'Neal, who was a top-three MVP candidate that season, and Jamaal Tinsley, who had a tremendous W-L record as the team's starting PG that season.

When they got hurt, that season was over, period. Ron, even if he was healthy mentally, still wasn't/ isn't that good.

The revisionist history is entertaining, however.

It really feels weird being closer to Uncle Buck's position than your's or Peck's.

I think I need to see a doctor about these flu symptoms. It might be worse than I think!

-Bball

Peck
01-31-2006, 05:26 PM
There was this man that had a steak dinner. It was the best steak dinner he ever had.* When he was asked how it was he complained, "They forgot the garnishment."




*Sixty-one wins is the best Pacer season ever.


Actually factually you are incorrect.

It may have been the best regular season record ever but it was not the best season ever. Making the N.B.A. finals would be better than losing in the Conferance finals no matter how you want to slice it.

We've been down this road before though so we'll all just agree to disagree on this.

You look at 61 wins & see the Zenith.

I think the team had a bloated record & was fundamentally flawed.

I will still stand by my statement that any of the Larry Brown or Larry Bird coached teams would have smoked that unit in a 7 games series & they wouldn't need more than 5 games to do it.

ChicagoJ
01-31-2006, 06:04 PM
As weak as the East was that season, the Bo Hill era Pacers would've won 55-58 games against that competition, and played an interesting seven-game series, too.

Dreiling vs. Foster - slight edge to Foster for althleticism
Tank/DD vs. JO - obvious edge to JO
Chuck vs. Ron - Chuck would've scored, and Ron would've melted down from Chuck's talking
Reggie vs. Reggie - Younger Reggie could score more in the first half, older Reggie could still hit the big shot in the last minute or get his layup blocked in the last minute. Didn't matter if Reggie always disappeared, though. Chuck was Mr. Clutch for that team. Younger Reggie.
Micheal Williams vs. Tinsley - Yes, I'll say it, Micheal Williams.

Bench
Smits/ Detlef/ Vern > Al/ AJ/ Fred

:shrug:

+

+

+

+

+







:zip:

Peck
01-31-2006, 06:43 PM
As weak as the East was that season, the Bo Hill era Pacers would've won 55-58 games against that competition, and played an interesting seven-game series, too.

Dreiling vs. Foster - slight edge to Foster for althleticism
Tank/DD vs. JO - obvious edge to JOChuck vs. Ron - Chuck would've scored, and Ron would've melted down from Chuck's talking
Reggie vs. Reggie - Younger Reggie could score more in the first half, older Reggie could still hit the big shot in the last minute or get his layup blocked in the last minute. Didn't matter if Reggie always disappeared, though. Chuck was Mr. Clutch for that team. Younger Reggie.
Micheal Williams vs. Tinsley - Yes, I'll say it, Micheal Williams.

Bench
Smits/ Detlef/ Vern > Al/ AJ/ Fred

:shrug:

+

+

+

+

+







:zip:


Not as obvious as you would think.

Dale shut J.O. down every single time they played against each other while he was in Portland & only the last time did J.O. ever have a good game against him.

Dale was exaclty the type of player that caused J.O. fits. He was stronger than J.O., more physical than J.O, tougher than J.O. & as quick as J.O.

Your talking about Dale in his early prime there so I would even say Dale was faster than J.O.

Dale wasn't going to score for us, but I can tell you now he would shut O'Neal down. Becuase he did it every time vs. the Blazer.

ChicagoJ
01-31-2006, 06:48 PM
Yeah, but I was originally thinking of the Tank Thompson era, and at that time Dale was a much better rebounder than defender.

I think his defense really blossomed later, beginning with Larry Brown. Just my :twocents:, though.

Unclebuck
01-31-2006, 08:18 PM
The revisionist history is entertaining, however.


I agree with you 100%. We agree on something

Unclebuck
01-31-2006, 08:19 PM
It really feels weird being closer to Uncle Buck's position than your's or Peck's.

I think I need to see a doctor about these flu symptoms. It might be worse than I think!

-Bball



It might feel wierd, but it sure feels good doesn't it

Unclebuck
01-31-2006, 09:41 PM
Here is my heartfelt tribute to Ronnie.


Well not really, but a good article

http://www.sacbee.com/content/sports/v-print/story/14135956p-14964777c.html

Ailene Voisin: Ron vs. Ron
By Ailene Voisin -- Bee Sports Columnist
Published 2:15 am PST Tuesday, January 31, 2006
The Kings are expecting a lot from a guy with a horrible reputation. They are asking Ron Artest to tame his inner beast, in essence, to perform with the ferocity of an All-Star while behaving like the perfect gentleman. They want him to sip from the Kings' Kool-Aid dispenser (see Chris Webber) whenever he feels the urge to, say, kick a water cooler, assault a television monitor or wave a finger to the crowd.
Behavior modification, not a miracle. That's the goal.

No more brawls. No more tantrums. No more vacation requests to pursue other interests. No more suspensions. Just play the game and collect the paycheck, and if his obsession with defense becomes contagious and his teammates respond with a playoff sprint, all the other stuff - all the bad stuff - will be conveniently and permanently forgotten.

So why would anyone suggest any of this is possible?

Because Artest is two people. Because the man known as Ron-Ron is a split decision. One Ron engages in all sorts of crazy activity, even ignites a brawl that leads to the most severe penalty ever assessed by NBA Commissioner David Stern, while the other Ron is so well-liked, is regarded as such a genuinely kind and compassionate human being, that in the aftermath of last week's Artest-Peja Stojakovic trade, members of the Pacers' organization continue to experience conflicting and powerful sentiments. According to team president Larry Bird, their immense relief is tempered by a tremendous sense of loss, perhaps even a sense of failure.

"He's just a great kid," an impassioned Bird said Monday during a lengthy conversation. "That's why this was so hard. We tried to do the best we could. Ronnie's got a lot of things going on, a lot of pressures. But he seemed like he was doing well.

"After the (Nov. 19, 2004) brawl, he would look you in the eye, get more in-depth in his conversations. I felt he was on the road to recovery. It (Artest's trade demands) really caught me by surprise."

Complicating the Artest puzzle are several lesser-known pieces to a personality that contrast sharply with his public image. The sound bites, for instance, seldom mention he is one of the league's most generous players, that he financially sponsors youngsters at the prestigious Five-Star development camp, conducts basketball clinics near the projects where he grew up in Queensbridge, N.Y., signs autographs willingly, mingles with fans routinely, and has a soft spot for the underprivileged.

Artest and his wife, Kimsha, already the parents of four children, also plan to adopt another child this summer because they feel compelled to share their wealth and comfortable lifestyle; race and gender are said to be irrelevant.

"You can learn a lot about a person by going back to where they're from," said Brad Miller, a close friend and former teammate of Artest in Chicago and Indianapolis, "and when I spent an afternoon with Ronnie one day during our (Pacers) playoffs against New Jersey, it was pretty amazing. We'd be walking around, and everybody knew him. This window, that window, people were yelling, 'Go get them, Ron.' He was just down to earth and nice to everybody. I realized right then what a good person he was."

But Artest is also an unfiltered and uncensored monologue, inclined to say whatever he thinks at a particular moment. Issues inevitably arise because he is known to change his mind a few minutes later. Though he chafed in Rick Carlisle's structured offense, for instance, several of those close to the situation doubt he ever really wanted to relocate, that as he stated only weeks earlier, he wanted to live in his adopted hometown of Indianapolis forever.

Yet when speculation erupted in December about a possible swap for Stojakovic, Artest arrived at the Pacers' ensuing game dressed in a purple suit. Asked by a beat writer to explain his choice of colors, the seventh-year pro allowed that he was receptive to joining the Kings if given an opportunity to speak first with Geoff Petrie, and Joe and Gavin Maloof. He just didn't want to be ignored. He feared becoming an afterthought and, somewhat ironically, the matter spiraling out of his control.

"Ron's issues are emotional," offered Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh, "not biological, and like I told Geoff (Petrie), I think the big incidents are behind him. We just reached a point where we had to move on. Our team had become gun-shy. The last time (trade demand), I remember thinking, there was no way I could bring him back. But Sacramento is getting one hell of a player."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Artest can become an addiction. The more you watch him, the more you want to see. Bird on Monday described his former star as "the most unique player I've ever seen," and then proceeded to gush about his skills.
"You look at him," the Hall of Fame forward continued, "and his shot is off-balance, he gets into people going into the lane, hits tough shots. And defensively ... I told Ronnie the only guy he can't shut down (laugh) is Bonzi Wells. Bonzi always killed him."

At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, Artest is shorter and thicker than the sinewy Dennis Rodman, the player with whom he most often is compared. He has wide hips and powerful shoulders, thick hamstrings and a slight bow to his lower legs. His low center of gravity, coupled with instinct and anticipation, allow him to consistently hit the floor for loose balls faster than his opponents. And his hands are so sneaky-quick he remains a constant threat to lead the league in steals.

Yet what most distinguishes Artest, 26, from so many of his peers - apart from the outbursts and assorted sorry deeds - is his unbridled, if undisciplined, desire to be great and his willingness to outwit and outwork his opponents. Therein lies the root of lingering leaguewide infatuation. Low-post skills can be taught. Perimeter shooting can improve. But love of the game? Passion for the rebound, for the steal, for the deciding play?

That comes from within, from the heart, and sometimes, as Artest himself allows, from the streets.

"To do well on the playgrounds of New York," he said, "you have to have the basketball. Everybody just stands out there and dribbles. You gotta go get the ball. Growing up I did a little of everything. I was always tall. But I don't know why it is. I just always loved playing defense."

His versatility earned him a scholarship to St. John's; his development resulted in an opportunity with the Bulls, who selected him with the 16th pick in the 1999 NBA draft. His subsequent troubles factored into his trade (almost as a throw-in because the Pacers wanted Miller) to Indiana in February 2002. His subsequent issues - among them an alleged domestic altercation with a former girlfriend - led to a laundry list of suspensions and lengthy absences: Three games for smashing video equipment in New York; four games for confronting Pat Riley on the sidelines; one game for demolishing a framed picture of himself in Conseco Fieldhouse; one game for a flagrant foul on his new teammate, Wells.

On and on it goes, culminating in the Pacers-Pistons brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills and, ultimately, his dispatch last week to the left coast.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With the Kings slumping miserably and the Maloofs pushing hard for a shake-up, Petrie two weeks ago instructed Jerry Reynolds to contact fellow French Lick, Ind., native Bird and inquire about Artest. What Petrie learned - aside from the obvious, namely, that Artest is a superior talent with a checkered history - is that the Pacers went to great lengths in their pursuit of stability. Before Artest was ordered by the league to undergo anger management counseling in the aftermath of the brawl, in fact, team officials had enlisted input from medical and psychology experts, and for years Indiana has had a sports therapist on staff.
And it wasn't enough. The counseling. The coaxing. The coddling. The tough love near the end.

"But people change," Artest said. "I've been through so much. I've played something like 16 games in 1 1/2 years. The people of Sacramento will see. I just want to play. Emotionally, I think I am ready to do this."