View Full Version : KRAVITZ-Time to pull incompatible team apart

05-05-2006, 10:54 AM

May 5, 2006

bob kravitz
Time to pull incompatible team apart

Anybody know where the wrecking ball is stored?

How about dynamite?
Everybody loves a good implosion.
The Indiana Pacers' forgettable season is over, and somehow, the feeling is more of a relief than a searing disappointment. Now that this dysfunctional team has been put out of its misery and ours, it's time for team president Larry Bird and team CEO Donnie Walsh to fix the mess that has been left here since that night of madness in Detroit 11/2 years ago.
A team on the cusp of a championship run was reduced to a monument to mediocrity, a thoroughly unlikable and often unwatchable collection of mismatched talents and personalities.
Anybody got a match?

"I think the culture has to change,'' Anthony Johnson said plainly after the Pacers' 96-90 loss ended their season. "Sometimes there's a lack of professionalism and a lack of understanding. We need to give more effort to the team situation and not think about individual wants and needs.''
They didn't like each other. And this city, which seemed to regard playoff games as an imposition, didn't like this team. In a place that loves and reveres basketball, that's hard to do.
"There could be significant change or it could be moderate,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's hard to predict.''
No, it's not.

Goodbye, Jamaal Tinsley. Farewell, Stephen Jackson. So long, Fred Jones. We'll miss the hairstyles, Scot Pollard. And that might not -- should not -- be all.

Last season, the Pacers overcame the lack of manpower by coalescing around Reggie Miller and playing with a distinct sense of purpose. This season, with the Ron Artest mess and injuries, they never overcame.
"There was just so much negativity going around, it got contagious,'' said Jackson, who sounded Thursday like he was resigned to being moved elsewhere this summer. "Sometimes, people were talking about one another. The team wasn't always together. It was an up-and-down rocky year, and when the team isn't together, it's going to show out there on the court.
"The great teams get through (hard times). They stay focused and keep their minds on the goal, but as a coaching staff and as a team. It's not just in the locker room.''

If the latter part of that statement sounds like a shot at Carlisle and his staff, it is. It sounds like an oversimplification, but this group tuned out the coaching staff a long time ago. If Carlisle did one of the league's great coaching jobs one year ago, keeping his team together after the brawl, he flat-out lost this group, in large part because players perceived that he had different rules for different players.
Even after Artest was jettisoned -- and doesn't that Sports Illustrated cover with Artest and Bird look foolish now? -- players were grumbling, casting sideways glances at coaches and teammates, questioning others' motivation and toughness.

It is unfair and impossible to come right out and say, "So-and-so just didn't suck it up and should have played.'' Tinsley? We don't know how his body feels. Peja Stojakovic? We can't feel the pain he felt all week in his knee. Jeff Foster? We don't get to read the MRIs.
Let's simply say this: The guys who played most of the time, the Johnsons and Jacksons and some others, never quite felt like all their teammates were willing to push through the kinds of injuries they were able to overcome.

They viewed Tinsley as a malingerer. They wondered if Stojakovic was saving himself and his wounded knee for free agency.
It would be misguided to pin this underachieving season entirely on "bad chemistry.'' The Miami Heat have often looked like a team with bad chemistry, and they're moving on to the second round. The Pacers could have spent the season holding hands and singing "Kumbaya," and it wouldn't have made more than a couple of victories' difference.
As for this game, it played out the way it was supposed to play out. The undermanned Pacers were competitive against the Nets. But when a team begins the season thinking in terms of a title run, it's damning with faint praise to extol the virtues of not getting embarrassed.

They got nothing from their bench -- literally, no points.
Then, when they needed something from Jermaine O'Neal, when they needed a superstar effort with the season on the line, he was terribly lacking.
Two plays:
With the Pacers having pulled within 90-87, Nenad Krstic missed, but O'Neal went after the loose ball with something less than gusto. Jason Kidd tipped it away, Vince Carter hit on a drive and the Nets were up five.
A few minutes later, the Pacers were within 92-20. Johnson missed a shot, O'Neal got the rare offensive rebound, then went up softly and got blocked by Richard Jefferson.
Game, set, summer vacation. The season is over.
Hallelujah. And pass the igniter fluid.

Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star. Call him at (317) 444-6643 or e-mail bob.kravitz@indystar.com.

05-05-2006, 10:55 AM
I actually agree with everything he is saying,and from what ive seen on here I think that most everyone else does also.

05-05-2006, 11:05 AM
It hurts to agreee with him, but when you're right, you're right.


05-05-2006, 11:34 AM
Interestingly, JO was very, very soft/ passive on those two plays in question.

Good call from Bob.

05-05-2006, 12:39 PM
Certainly a fair column which I aggree with.

05-05-2006, 01:22 PM
Interestingly, JO was very, very soft/ passive on those two plays in question.

Good call from Bob.

Oh yes, not only JO but the entire team. As Mrs. RWB likes to point out about her non favorite player "PDB" (Pillsbury Dough Boy David Harrison) she believes the girls team she coached in the Y league were more physical and had more speed than these guys.