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ARTESTMVP
11-12-2004, 01:28 AM
For the record

By Joe Lago, Yahoo! Sports
November 11, 2004

Larry Bird probably has seen the TV talking heads poke fun at the situation or heard radio callers give their take on the matter. The Indiana Pacers' general manager likely has read the opinion of the hometown columnist, and the obligatory joke email will soon find its way into his in-box.

No doubt, Larry Bird is mulling over what to do with Ron Artest after the All-Star small forward made the totally ridiculous request of taking a month off to recharge after exhausting himself on a debut rap album. Like everyone else with a byline, here's my advice on doing the right thing.

Keep Ron Artest, Larry. Don't you dare trade him.

Without Artest, you know there will be no championship banner hanging in Conseco Fieldhouse. There will be no downtown parade to Monument Circle.

Ron Artest, with all of his unpredictable behavior, is the difference between the Pacers being a title contender and just an ordinary playoff hopeful.

Artest when he's not making music is the X factor that makes the Pacers championship material. He is the heart of Indiana's defense (and the reigning Defensive Player of the Year). He is the team's enforcer. In addition to locking down the opposing team's top perimeter scorer, he's capable of pumping in 30 points himself from the inside and outside.

Yes, you inquired about swapping Artest for Peja Stojakovic over the summer, and you acquired Stephen Jackson, who gives you the perimeter shooting your team lacked against Detroit in last season's Eastern Conference finals. Jackson, like Artest, can play a little defense, too.

But you know that Jackson, despite having won a ring with the Spurs as their starting shooting guard, can't lead the Pacers to a title as Jermaine O'Neal's No. 2. He's not a difference maker like Artest. He's a role player.

Ship Artest away and you can count out Indiana in the East, Larry, even if you finally swing that deal for Stojakovic (hopefully you saw what Peja did, or didn't do, in the playoffs). Besides, you're not going to get equal value anyway, not after this latest episode.

Artest wants to win a championship. He even said so while explaining his case to the media Wednesday. After Nov. 23 when he finally releases his album Artest says he'll commit himself to leading the Pacers to an NBA title. You have to believe him, because when Artest sets his mind to something, he'll run through a brick wall to do it.

Artest once said he wanted to stop the guy he's guarding every possession, whether his team is up 20 points or down 20 points. That intense concentration had his teammates in Chicago thinking he was, well, a little different. But that kind of tunnel vision is required to win a championship. If anyone should know that, it's you Larry Bird.

Last season, Artest's game matured, as he knocked down shots instead of opposing players. He was everything you wanted in a small forward.

So what happened to that player? He's still there, somewhere in the world Artest lives in. Trust that your level-headed head coach, Rick Carlisle, can bring that Artest back and get him to focus on the Central Division standings again, not the Billboard charts.

If this was the last straw and you've already made up your mind, at least wait until Jonathan Bender plays before you pull the trigger on a trade. See if the 7-footer is ready to take on a larger role now that Al Harrington is gone.

But once Artest leaves town, say goodbye to Indiana's championship hopes.

Keep Artest and you keep the Pacers in the title hunt.

Just make sure he doesn't have plans to release a double-album in late April.

Joe Lago is an NFL and NBA editor at Yahoo! Sports.

Anthem
11-12-2004, 01:33 AM
I agree with all of that.

But do yourself a favor and re-register with a real sig. You're welcome here, but join the community instead of standing on a pedestal and yelling.

Hicks
11-12-2004, 08:17 AM
This "No Artest = No Title" talk is not only highly debatable, but short-sided.

Even if it cost us one now, we'd still be rid of his disruptions and in the long run that could HELP us win a title.

Bball
11-12-2004, 08:26 AM
This "No Artest = No Title" talk is not only highly debatable, but short-sided.

Even if it cost us one now, we'd still be rid of his disruptions and in the long run that could HELP us win a title.

I'd have to say if losing Artest would 'cost' us a title then we shouldn't lose him. The decision should be squarely focused on whether Artest ultimately helps or hurts the team (and the team's title chances).

From the outside looking in it is appearing more and more that Artest will have more to do with the loss of team chemistry (and thus contending for a title) than being healthy for the team.



-Bball

Kid Minneapolis
11-12-2004, 09:04 AM
Indy now houses the most controversial player in the NBA.

Artest, you are an enigma. And I think he relishes that role.

Suaveness
11-12-2004, 09:55 AM
I don't know about that future thing. We still need players in the future, and you don't come across many unique players like Ron. I really really do agree with this article.

Reggie4Three
11-12-2004, 01:17 PM
This "No Artest = No Title" talk is not only highly debatable, but short-sided.

Even if it cost us one now, we'd still be rid of his disruptions and in the long run that could HELP us win a title.

I think trading Ron IS the short-sighted thing to do. It gives quick relief to an immediate problem. Replacing everything that Ron gives, or will give, us on the court will be the long-term problem that I'm not convinced will be an easy thing to do and reduce our chances of winning it all in the next 3 or 4 seasons, not just this one.

Of course if the right trade came along, you could always get better. I don't think Peja would make us better and I doubt we're going to get any better value for him now.

I think the best course of action right now is to accept the fact that Ron is different and try to embrace that as best you can. That's not to say you let him run wild, but you deal with it in the same way as the Bulls dealt with Rodman or even how Phil dealt with Kobe over the past few years.