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Thread: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

  1. #1
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    On the NBA | As good as it could get

    By David Aldridge
    Inquirer Staff Writer

    Ron Artest finally got traded. A nation pauses to reflect.

    It's amazing that so many people:

    (a) think the Pacers are fools for waiting six weeks to deal Artest after his initial trade demand, and (b) think the Pacers made a bad deal in acquiring Peja Stojakovic from the Kings.

    I'm sorry, were the Heat shopping Dwyane Wade without our knowledge? Did Kevin McHale's Blackberry malfunction while he was offering Kevin Garnett to Indiana CEO Donnie Walsh?

    A three-time all-star for a talented knucklehead is about as good as anyone could expect. Especially one who doesn't impact the team's luxury-tax situation down the road.

    Trades come about much like houses are bought. You don't make your last, best offer right out of the gate, do you? You try to get the number down if you're buying, or up if you're selling. And teams don't make their best offers the day after someone is put on the trading block as publicly as Artest was.

    "We had waited a long time to get the offers we did get," Walsh said by phone on Friday. "They were good. They were a lot better than everybody said we were going to get. The same guys that are writing we got hosed were saying we wouldn't get anybody."

    This isn't about Artest's basketball abilities, which are numerous and well-documented (though he is not, as Sacramento co-owner Joe Maloof suggested this way on Thursday, one of the five best players in the game. The Maloofs are so enthusiastic and cute when they talk about their Kings).

    This isn't even really about Artest the person, who is big-hearted and utterly without conceit.

    But Artest is damaged goods. He's a fixer-upper. He's the Benz after the accident. He's down to his last strike with a commissioner who will throw him out of the league the next time he gets out of line. He knows it. The Pacers know it. And more to the point, the other teams around the league know it.

    Not only did Walsh and team president Larry Bird manage the situation well, they shrewdly found a division - the Pacific - chock full of teams that were desperate to get Artest. The Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Kings each made offers, and if the Pacers couldn't get the player they wanted from one, like rookie forward Ike Diogu from Golden State, they moved to the next team, creating a crabs-in-a-barrel effect.

    And people seem to forget: The Pacers would have ended this three weeks ago if Clipper Corey Maggette's foot wasn't so damaged - and, you should know, if he wasn't so hard to get insured as a result.

    Once the Maloofs finally decided to pull the trigger on a deal two weeks ago and put Stojakovic on the table, Walsh and Bird didn't wait any longer.

    "There was another team I would have gone right to if this didn't work," Walsh said (and my guess - just a guess - is that it was Denver). "But no, I wasn't going to sit around when we were offered a good player and say, 'I'll just wait until the trading deadline.' "

    No, the 28-year-old Stojakovic isn't nearly as good without Chris Webber and Vlade Divac. No, he doesn't play much defense. Yes, he's been pouting most of this season, which happens to be a contract year.

    But he immediately solves two problems the Pacers have struggled with all season: His arrival allows Stephen Jackson to move back to shooting guard (Jackson's been getting torched trying to guard bigger threes), and he provides Jermaine O'Neal with a legit option when he's double-teamed in the post.

    Even with Artest, the Pacers weren't going to beat the Pistons. Detroit is on one of those season-long rolls and has the look of a champion. Indiana is too brittle. (Point guard Jamaal Tinsley and O'Neal can't stay healthy.) Everyone acts as if the Pacers were a finished product. They're not. And they couldn't keep waiting for Artest. Nor could they have him on the roster; O'Neal was not going to play with him anymore. Period.

    "I may not want to believe it, but it appears that this thing has knocked us off track this year," Walsh said. "I'd be curious to see if our players get back on track. We're headed in a direction where we can at least get a vision of our team and see where we're going in the future. We had to do something. Jamaal played about 1,300 minutes last season, and Jermaine played about 1,500 minutes. We were doing it on fumes. We still are. Last year was devastating and we didn't recover from it. Maybe we still are."

    The Pacers can continue building their team. The Kings, who didn't have anything to lose (they probably weren't going to re-sign Stojakovic at big prices, anyway) get a guy who can guard the likes of Kobe Bryant and Jason Richardson and the division's other big scorers. Maybe they make a run into the playoffs. Maybe they don't.

    But with Artest, they won't be boring.

    If Artest is smart, he'll keep it down to a dull roar.

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    Looks are deceiving: Pacers did it right

    By Israel Gutierrez

    Sure, it looks bad now.

    Now that the Pacers are nothing more than an OK playoff team with no real shot at even the Eastern Conference finals, when just three months ago people were calling them the best team in the East.

    And now that the team's best player, Jermaine O'Neal, is out for at least two months, and suddenly even the playoffs are in question.

    And now that you've traded for an All-Star, Peja Stojakovic, who's pretty much a one-dimensional player, and that dimension has diminished over the past couple seasons and disintegrates entirely when placed under pressure.

    So, no, things aren't looking very favorable for a Pacers team that had such high aspirations at the start of the season. But had they handled this Ron Artest situation any differently, it would have ended much worse.

    There are those who believe the Pacers made a huge mistake in deactivating Artest from the moment he demanded a trade, forcing him to sit out of 23 games as the Indiana front office sorted through a ton of trade offers to find the best fit. Better to win with him than lose without him, right?


    It never would have happened that way. It's impossible to accurately assess how damaging Artest's presence would have been to a team when it was clear he had no interest in improving it. But there are examples that offer some perspective.

    Last season, Vince Carter and Jeff McInnis both wanted off their respective teams, and both created problems while they remained playing for the teams that tried to trade them.

    Carter was his team's best player, and although no one is sure what the Raptors could have accomplished with a motivated Carter on board, there is pretty overwhelming evidence that he was simply not trying hard for the Raptors. His numbers in New Jersey skyrocketed back toward his career averages after the trade, and the damage he left behind in Toronto was irreparable.

    But the more compelling argument against keeping Artest on board while the Pacers looked to trade him is the McInnis example. McInnis was a secondary player on a Cavaliers team that looked as if it was headed toward a playoff berth last season.

    But when McInnis became disgruntled, it created such an unfavorable environment that not only did the team fall out of playoff contention, but it began a domino effect that resulted in the dismissal of both the head coach, Paul Silas, and the general manager, Jim Paxson.

    Some would say McInnis and Artest live in that same neighborhood between sane and inexplicably irrational, so imagine what Artest could have done to the Pacers in just six weeks. Even if Artest's trade demand was just a reaction to trade rumors already circulating, the relationship was damaged beyond restoration, and playing a handful more games for the Pacers would not have improved matters.

    ''If anything, I've probably gone too far with Ronnie because I felt like he was going to learn how to do things,'' Pacers CEO/president Donnie Walsh said. ``At that point, which I thought was true, that as long as he was here, anything he did would get blown up and affect his teammates and affect everybody.''

    As it is, the Pacers went 11-12 between the time Artest demanded a trade and the team actually trading him. Had O'Neal not torn a groin muscle that will cost him the better part of the regular season, the post-Artest Pacers would still be considered a strong Eastern Conference team with a chance of reaching the East finals.


    How much different would the best-case scenario had been if Artest were allowed to play for the Pacers while the team sought a trade?

    They still would not have gotten a player comparable to Artest's abilities, because there frankly is no other in the league like Artest. And other than Stojakovic and Clippers forward Corey Maggette, whom the Pacers would have dealt for if not for health concerns, there aren't many All-Star-caliber players whose salaries match the relatively low $6.5 million number of Artest's.

    So where would the Pacers have been right now if Artest had played in those 23 games and, miraculously, was on his best behavior? Maybe five games better in the standings?

    What would that have meant for them now, after he was traded? Nothing. He would still be gone, they would still have to adjust to a new No. 2 option and they would still have the same competition come playoff time.

    The Pacers handled matters the right, respectable way. Walsh has already once rebuilt a team with very little down time. And he can do it again -- without worrying about the NBA's biggest problem child in the meantime.

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    Indiana executives should be applauded
    By Chris Perkins

    Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

    Sunday, January 29, 2006

    MIAMI — If you ever get the opportunity to meet Indiana executives Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh, reach out and silently shake their hands.

    They'll know why.

    These two managed to unload the NBA's two-time defending Knucklehead of the Year, forward Ron Artest, and they got a three-time All-Star, Peja Stojakovic, in return.

    In the process, Bird and Walsh took a stand and showed they refuse to be bullied by talent and blinded by common sense. Not anymore, anyway.

    "My way has always been to try to support players," Walsh said. "If anything, I've probably gone too far with Ronnie because I felt like he was going to learn how to do things."

    Granted, it's not a fair dollar-for-dollar deal as far as talent. Stojakovic, a dead-eye shooter during the regular season, has been labeled as soft and often lives down to that title in the playoffs.

    The Pacers apparently had a deal in place with the Los Angeles Clippers for swingman Corey Maggette, but it fell through because Indiana had concerns about Maggette's foot. So, Stojakovic is the second prize.

    But the thing about Artest — a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a top-15 player when he's right — is everybody has a "That's the thing about Ron," disclaimer when describing him, and when that happens, look out.


    •Sacramento center Brad Miller, Artest's teammate now for the third time because they played together in Chicago and Indiana, said: "That's the main thing with Ron, if he can keep it on the court, you're essentially getting a guy that's definitely one of the best defenders in the league, and his offense has come along."

    •Boston guard Paul Pierce: "He's one of the more unpredictable guys in the league, so you just hope he shows up and puts his uniform on, and they announce him in the starting lineup and he's right there. Once they do that, then you know he's on.''

    •Detroit guard Maurice Evans, a former King, said: "I don't think that's a good deal for Sacramento. I don't think the guy (Artest) is that helpful. He was just coming off a suspension and that's how he reacts, by demanding a trade? He should be happy to be playing."

    And it might turn out that he is just happy playing.

    "I'm very excited, very excited," Artest said. "I feel like it's a fresh start, like it's a blessing that I've got an opportunity to play once again."

    Give him the benefit of the doubt on that one. It appears Artest never nixed the deal to Sacramento. Rather his agent, Mark Stevens, had things wrong.

    But let's be real, Artest eventually is going to cause problems.

    Bird and Walsh knew as much and that's why they should be congratulated. They refused to let Artest, a proven shut-down defender, wreck their franchise for another season.

    Now he's the problem of Kings owners Gavin and Joe Maloof, owners of Palms Casino in Las Vegas.

    "Well, I don't know that it's going to be different," Gavin Maloof said of Artest, "but we're willing to take a chance. Hey, we have a home in Vegas, and we're gamblers, so we're going to take a chance on him."

    That's whimsical now, but after Artest doesn't get 20 points per game in the Kings' free-flowing offense, and after he discovers the Kings aren't making the playoffs this year and might not again next season, problems will arise.

    Guaranteed. And the attitude won't be so carefree then.

    The Gamble partially is understandable for the Kings. Fans are upset with the product, the team is seeking a deal for a new arena and so far that's not going over very well, and Artest will generate interest.

    Still, Artest will generate the wrong kind of interest.

    Bird and Walsh figured it out, and now it's somebody else's turn to figure it out.

    Nice job, Pacers.

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    Peja Stojakovic

    Wade: Kings will regret trade - eventually
    By Don Wade
    January 29, 2006

    The Sacramento Kings got the better player.

    The Indiana Pacers got the better deal.

    With the trading of Ron Artest for Peja Stojakovic, the Pacers accomplished their goal of ending a soap opera that was largely of their own making.

    And the Kings proved they refuse to learn from the Pacers' mistakes.

    It's easy enough to handicap the pure basketball part of this trade: Peja's a one-dimensional player, a jump shooter who can get ungodly hot from 3-point range, but a marginal defender and about as tough as pudding.

    Artest is one of the league's best defenders -- let's not get carried away and say he's the best; he didn't guard anyone while sitting out -- and he's a legit scorer.

    He's also a one-man fireworks stand.

    Apparently, the Kings believe he'll be positively influenced by his new teammates, who include Bonzi Wells. Yeah, that's a great chemistry lab they've got out there in Sacramento.

    And yet, even though it's guaranteed Artest will blow up in the Kings' faces -- it's a matter of when, not if -- it's possible the Kings could get some bounce from this deal in the short term.

    Artest, if motivated to prove people wrong, just might play out of his impossible-to-understand mind for a while and make life miserable for Sacramento's opponents.

    The Pacers, meantime, can now return to something more closely resembling normalcy. Peja not only isn't a lockdown defender, he's a hand-over-the-keys to the basket defender. But he will score. And he won't be a daily disturbance.

    "He's not as good of a defender as Ron, but he's an All-Star," said the Pacers' Stephen Jackson, who joined Artest in the stands during last season's Motown Melee. "I'll welcome any All-Star to our team."

    Jermaine O'Neal likened Peja to Reggie Miller, who shot from the hip before taking his current studio job shooting from the lip.

    "He's a quick catch-and-shoot guy," O'Neal said of Stojakovic. "He's a potent shooter and a big-time perimeter player."

    Out west, the Kings' Brad Miller, who has been a teammate of Artest's twice before, trumpeted the good things Artest could do in his new locale.

    "If he can keep it on the court, you're getting a guy that's one of the best defenders in the league and his offense has come along."

    If he can keep it on the court ... any bets on that?

    Take him... please

    The undercard of the week was the seven-player deal involving Boston and Minnesota.

    Say what you will about the scorers involved -- the Celtics' Ricky Davis going to the T-Wolves for Wally Szczerbiak -- but each team was at least as motivated by the baggage it unloaded.

    Boston was desperate to be rid of underachieving center Mark Blount -- he's now Minnesota's project. The Timberwolves wanted to pack over-hyped center Michael Olowokandi's bags for him -- he's now Boston's puzzle to piece together. Yes, there were other players and draft picks involved, but the deal came down to trading one flawed scorer for another flawed scorer and one bad center for another bad center.

    In real life, the exchange of centers would have been like me trading my '96 Buick for your '96 Ford. They're both pieces of junk, but somehow it will be less annoying to see a "new" piece of junk in the driveway.

    In the end, though, it turns out the same way: When you need them most, they won't even start.

    Sitting by his woman

    Last Thursday, the Spurs' Tony Parker was to fly to Chicago to appear on "Oprah" with girlfriend Eva Longoria, of "Desperate Housewives" fame. Parker figured the conversation would not include much talk about San Antonio's commitment to defense under Gregg Popovich -- or anything else particularly basketball-related.

    "I'm doing this more for Eva," Parker said. "I know it's a big thing for her and she really loves Oprah ... I'll just enjoy myself and support Eva."

    Being there for Eva... a tough job, but somebody's got to do it.

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    Pacers better off without poison

    The Kansas City Star

    The Associated Press
    Now Sacramento is the team that must put up with former Indiana forward Ron Artest’s antics.

    The Indiana Pacers finally ridded themselves of Ron Artest poisoning by trading the troubled forward to the Sacramento Kings for forward Peja Stojakovic.

    Physically, Artest is a far more complete player than Stojakovic. Artest is an outstanding defender, whereas defense hasn’t entered Stojakovic’s vocabulary.

    In addition, Artest can score in more ways than Stojakovic. But Stojakovic could be a nice fit for the Pacers if he sticks around for a few more seasons and plays with Jermaine O’Neal, who is currently out because of a groin injury.

    Still, the Pacers are better off. But it will take the Pacers the rest of this season to fully recover from the debilitating Artest poisoning.

    Artest’s antics have ruined the Pacers the last two years. His behavior is absolutely inexcusable. Artest was on a team good enough to win the Eastern Conference and reach the NBA finals.

    The Pacers were paying him millions, and his teammates tried to embrace him. None of that mattered to Artest, who had his own agenda, and it had nothing to do with being a team player.

    Artest is only 26 and has plenty of time to turn around, be a team player and help somebody win an NBA title.

    A look at Rasheed Wallace with the Detroit Pistons proves it can happen. Wallace, a very talented player, was a technical foul machine during his days with Portland.

    Wallace played on some pretty talented Portland teams, but he never reached his full potential because of his attitude.

    Wallace went to Detroit, got in a great system, and look at him now. He’s happy and on the best starting five in the NBA, and you no longer hear about him being a disruptive force.

    Artest blew it in Indiana. He could have been part of a top-notch team for many years. Now he’s on a team that has gone from being a perennial playoff participant to last place in a shockingly fast decline.

    Perhaps playing for a last-place team will awaken Artest to what he had and lost with the Pacers and will make him wise up.

    But at this point, it’s hard to see that happening. Artest will be on good behavior for two or three weeks, then do something stupid to make headlines again.

    As for the Pacers, this season is lost, but they will make the necessary moves to quickly become an Eastern Conference contender again.

    Fast break

    Whether the sexual harassment accusations against Knicks president Isiah Thomas are true or not, he should be fired immediately because the team he’s put together is pathetic, and that’s his fault. … Pistons coach Flip Saunders took over a very good team and made them great. He’s the coach of the year so far. … Hornets forward Chris Andersen was recently suspended for at least two years for violating terms of the NBA drug policy. It shows that the league’s policy has teeth, and hopefully it will help Andersen, 27, seek help for whatever problem he has.

    WEEKLY FIVE: Five directionless organizations

    ■ Sacramento Kings: It’s amazing how quickly the Kings have fallen from being a strong Western Conference playoff team to swimming with the Warriors. Trading for Ron Artest is pure desperation.

    ■ New York Knicks: The moves that Isiah Thomas has made the last two seasons have been pitiful, terrible, horrible and every other adjective to describe incompetence. Thomas is the anti-Joe Dumars.

    ■ Seattle Supersonics: Seattle makes the playoffs last year but can’t retain Nate McMillan. Seattle has now had three coaches in less than a year and is nowhere near the playoffs.

    ■ Boston Celtics: The Celtics just traded Ricky Davis for Wally Szczerbiak, and the cynic in me says that makes sense for Boston. Truthfully, Danny Ainge isn’t doing much better than Isiah Thomas.

    ■ Houston Rockets: Yes, Tracy McGrady began the season hurt, and Yao Ming is now hurt, but that’s no excuse for the Rockets to be 12 games below .500. The only good news about the Rockets’ slide is we don’t have to hear coach Jeff Van Gundy crying about calls in the playoffs.


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    WINDERMAN: NBA Sunday column

    After going months without a trade, the Artest-Stojakovic swap has sparked some activity. With the league's trading deadline fast approaching, it could be just the start of an ... OPEN MARKET
    Ira Winderman
    NBA Columnist

    January 29, 2006

    By itself, Wednesday's trade of Ron Artest from the Pacers to the Kings for Peja Stojakovic hardly transforms the NBA landscape.

    Sacramento will still probably miss out on the playoffs; Indiana, even should Jermaine O'Neal regain his health, appears doomed to a first-round matchup with the Cavaliers and, at best, second-round elimination at the hands of the Pistons.

    What made Artest-Stojakovic so significant is that something finally happened, the league's first trade since Oct. 31. The first during the regular season. The first in a span of 86 days.

    In fact, discounting the relatively meaningless swap of Ronald Dupree from Detroit to Minnesota for a conditional second-round pick on Halloween, you had to go back to Oct. 26 and the epic deal that sent Desmond Mason from the Bucks to the Hornets for Jamaal Magloire as the most recent player-for-player trade before Artest-Stojakovic.

    Yet no sooner did the Artest-Stojakovic deal go down then Minnesota and Boston a day later swapped swingmen and centers, with Ricky Davis and Mark Blount going to the Timberwolves and Wally Szczerbiak and Michael Olowokandi going to the Celtics.

    Again, it hardly was a trade that redefined the playoff race, but it at least gives hope to Minnesota, something that seemingly is lost in Boston.

    But at least now, 26 days from the Feb. 23 trading deadline, the league again is in motion.

    As long as Artest was on the market, teams such as the Nuggets, Warriors, Lakers, Timberwolves and, presumably, Heat put other matters on hold. Say what you want about Artest, but among two-way players, he stands in a class of his own.

    In addition, with Stojakovic in Indiana, teams have a better perspective on his looming free agency. For example, while Stojakovic long has expressed interest in playing in South Florida, it would appear highly unlikely the Pacers would be amenable to the Heat's offseason need for a sign-and-trade transaction.

    So now the league can get on with its business and, apparently, there's plenty of business waiting to get transacted.

    Foremost, you have several teams in take-my-player-please modes.

    Tim Thomas has seemingly spent the entire season on house arrest, allowed to return to his New Jersey home by the Bulls after his preseason acquisition from the Knicks. Voshon Lenard has not seen action for the Nuggets since Dec. 15. And Tony Delk remains tucked away on the Hawks' inactive list, yet to see action since an Oct. 11 exhibition appearance against the Magic.

    Then there are the unsigned free agents Latrell Sprewell, Glenn Robinson, Elden Campbell, Christian Laettner and Willie Green.

    But more than that, there are players that teams either want to unload or need to unload.

    Among the ill fits are Jalen Rose, a veteran scorer on a rebuilding Raptors roster; Steve Francis, a pouting presence on the leaderless Magic; Ruben Patterson, a complementary presence on a Blazers roster that offers little to complement; and Reggie Evans, who has gone from starter under Bob Weiss to afterthought under new Sonics coach Bob Hill.

    Among the misplaced properties who could be on the move are Stephon Marbury, who is everything in a point guard Knicks coach Larry Brown disdains; Vladimir Radmanovic, a free-agent-in-waiting who may have already bypassed the Sonics' best offer; and Brevin Knight, the veteran Bobcats point guard who could serve as the glue for a contender.

    The bottom line is there are plenty of players who want to move and plenty of teams either pushing for trades or willing to push their burdens on others.

    By finally waving the white flag with Artest, Indiana simultaneously may have waved the green flag on the NBA's trading period. For a while, it was as if the only tool of the trade was patience.

    Around the league

    BACK IN VOGUE? Coming soon to a store near you: Kobe Bryant. Apparently, 81 points go a long way toward retail reawakening. Nike will introduce its new Bryant signature shoe, the Zoom Kobe I, with a Feb. 9 commercial. "I don't know if we'd call this a renaissance, but I think he's certainly coming back to life both on and off the court," Paul Swangard, of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon, told the Los Angeles Times. Bryant plans to launch a signature clothing line during the Feb. 17-19 All-Star Weekend in Houston.

    A "NAY" VOTE: Pistons forward Maurice Evans, who spent last season with the Kings, is not sold on Ron Artest being a fit in Sacramento. "I don't think the guy is that helpful," he said. "He was just coming off a suspension and that's how he reacts? By demanding a trade? He should be happy to be playing." ... Lost amid Artest's suspension was that Indiana also had been playing without retired guard Reggie Miller. Several Pacers say that void is more likely to be filled by Peja Stojakovic than the two-way role created by Artest's departure. "He's not Reggie, but he provides that threat. It should open up our inside game," center Scot Pollard said of a game now depleted by the injury absence of Jermaine O'Neal.

    UNEVEN TENURE: Given just a season and half to make his mark in Toronto, dismissed General Manager Rob Babcock exited with an uneven Raptors resume. On the positive side was the drafting of Charlie Villanueva, the trade for Mike James and the unearthing of guard Jose Calderon. But Babcock also drafted Rafael Araujo, gave an inflated free-agent contract to Rafer Alston and lost Vince Carter and Donyell Marshall for little in return. The bad moves were glaring, while the good moves assured nothing more than the opportunity for mediocrity.

    MANLY MAN: Cavaliers forward LeBron James remains confident in his masculinity even as he wears tights to keep his bruised right knee warm. His coach feels similarly. "There's a difference between tights and panty hose," Cleveland coach Mike Brown told the Akron Beacon Journal. "You're wearing panty hose to be sexy. Tights, they keep your muscles warm and make you jump out of the gym. One's sexy, one's slick. Simple as that."

    NOT ONCE: As hard as it is to believe, third-year Bulls forward Michael Sweetney admits he has never drawn a charging foul in the pros, college or high school, "I just never put myself in position. I'm always late." Countered Chicago coach Scott Skiles, "We're waiting to award him the game ball when he does."

    DOUBTING DAMON: How much faith have the Cavaliers lost in Damon Jones? Cleveland already has cycled past the former Heat guard as an injury replacement for Larry Hughes in the starting lineup and currently is auditioning Sasha Pavlovic, after Ira Newble also got a starting call ahead of Jones. In addition, the Cavaliers last week tried to add free-agent point guard Chucky Atkins, who instead signed with the Grizzlies. In his seven starts, Jones averaged 4.3 points, 1.6 assists and 1.4 rebounds while shooting .244 from the field and .216 on 3-pointers.

    BEMOANING BARON: Well, that didn't take long. Less than a year after arriving at the trade deadline as a savior, Baron Davis more and more is being viewed as selfish at Golden State. The latest consternation came when Davis dribbled out almost the entire clock with his team down 94-93 with 19.1 seconds left in what turned into a 96-93 loss to the Clippers. Davis wound up losing the ball on his far-too-late drive against Daniel Ewing. "We wanted to go early," coach Mike Montgomery said. "Baron elected to hold and put us in an awkward situation."


    Nets forward Scott Padgett, having previously played for the Jazz, last week pumped up the volume on a controversy in Utah. Padgett said the Jazz purposely over-inflates game balls. "They have an offense geared toward the layup, so they want your jumpers bouncing out," he said. "I'm telling you, if one of those balls hits you straight on, you're breaking a finger."


    "What was Toronto doing? They might as well not even have been on the court." -- Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, on the Raptors' defense in Kobe Bryant's 81-point game.

    "Plummer!" -- Raptors guard Jalen Rose, to a fan in Denver who had taunted him by yelling "Kobe!" a night after the Lakers guard scored his share of the 81 against Rose. The retort came a day after Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer turned the ball over four times in an AFC Championship Game loss to Pittsburgh.

    "Great talent needs a supporting cast." -- Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, explaining why Bryant might not be named Most Valuable Player, just as in 1961-62, when Celtics championship center Bill Russell took the honor, despite Robertson averaging a triple-double and Wilt Chamberlain averaging 50.4 points.

    "I'm just glad the league can move on. Let's talk about Kobe's 81. Let's talk about Chris Paul. Let's talk about Shaq. Those are good things." -- Celtics coach Doc Rivers, on the Pacers finally relocating Ron Artest.

    "I know that the coach of the team, other than his team, watches our games the most. So he knows our team as well as anybody in the league." -- Warriors forward Mike Dunleavy Jr., on the 8-2 success of the Mike Dunleavy-coached Clippers against Golden State.

    "I'm not particularly fond of the idea. I thought my tryout days were over with. Playing basketball professionally for so long, most people know exactly what I do." -- Sonics guard Ray Allen, on the selection process for the 2008 Olympic team.


    2 -- 20-point scorers acquired by Boston at midseason over the past year. In addition to adding Wally Szczerbiak and his 20.1 average Thursday, the Celtics added Antoine Walker and his 20.4 scoring average last February.

    5.2 -- Total seconds left in two games against the Celtics when Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas hit winning free throws. He did it with 1.7 seconds left in Wednesday's 89-87 win and with 3.5 seconds left in a 103-102 victory Jan. 7.

    5 -- Teams (Hornets, Heat, Cavaliers, Celtics and Timberwolves) in seven seasons for Ricky Davis, who only turned 26 in September.

    2 -- Future first-round picks Minnesota is now on the hook for, with a lottery-protected pick due first to the Clippers to complete last summer's acquisition of Marko Jaric and then a similarly protected pick eventually due the Celtics to complete the Davis acquisition.

    3 -- Times center Brad Miller and forward Ron Artest have been teammates (Chicago, Indiana and now Sacramento).

    3 -- Times this season a player has recorded a triple-double in a loss. The Nets' Jason Kidd did it last week in Utah. The Heat's Dwyane Wade did it Jan. 4 in Oklahoma City and Golden State's Baron Davis did it Jan. 14 vs. the Lakers.

    Ira Winderman can be heard this week on WQAM's Hank Goldberg Show at 8 a.m. Monday. Material from Sun-Sentinel interviews, wire services, other beat writers and league and team sources was used in this report.

  7. #7
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    It's all up to Artest now
    Since the initial jolt is over, he can concentrate on what he does best: play.
    By Sam Amick -- Bee Staff Writer
    Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, January 29, 2006
    TORONTO - The camera count had dwindled, along with the number of notebook-toting reporters.
    The Ron Artest hysteria, as it was, had a more mellow feel Saturday, when the once-gigantic group of media thinned between Boston and Canada with the trade finally in the books.

    Inside the Raptors' practice facility - where locals were far more interested in how their NHL hockey team would fare Saturday night - Kings president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie joked with assistant coach Pete Carril while walking toward the Artest scrum.

    "All the world's a stage, and we are merely players," he said, loosely quoting Shakespeare.

    But now that the deal that sent Peja Stojakovic to Indiana and brought Artest to Sacramento is complete, Artest is the only player in this act of the Kings' show who truly matters. Petrie played his part, along with team owners Joe and Gavin Maloof and their Pacers counterparts. Artest, the leading man in purple, is just getting started.

    His debut against Boston on Friday was merely a spectacle to be survived before the real work begins. Artest scored 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting, helped hold the Celtics' leading scorer, Paul Pierce, to just 18 points, grabbed four steals and made the best of a game that he played with teammates with whom he'd never practiced.

    In the least surprising development, Artest - who missed 73 games last season and hadn't played in 52 days before joining the Kings - was out of game shape. He huffed and puffed early in the 84-74 loss to the Celtics, often standing alone during free throws at the opposite end of the floor to get a head start on the running game. Artest - who persevered to log 31 minutes - said reshaping his lungs is the first chore.

    "I definitely was (sucking wind)," Artest said. "I tried to keep my attention, was just trying to fight through it. That's going to be my toughest challenge, fighting through fatigue."

    It would be less of a fight had he been traded earlier, or if Artest had never asked to be traded at all. But after his request Dec. 10 led to his deactivation by the Pacers, Artest said he continued working out for the next few weeks. When the trade winds were hardly blowing, he eased up.

    "I went off to L.A. and went on vacation," Artest said. "When I was in L.A. after (two and a half weeks) I found out there ... were some teams that were interested, I just started working out. I was in better shape a couple weeks ago, so that's why it's not going to take me that long to get in shape because I was working out. But going full court is different."

    Kings coach Rick Adelman said Artest wasn't as out of shape as he had expected.

    "It was much better than I thought," he said. "I probably played him too long down the stretch. That's why I played him in six-minute stints in the second half. And that's probably what I'm going to have to do, play him in shorter stints so he doesn't get so winded."

    Then it's on to the next assignment: integrating the versatile Artest into Adelman's offense. In the early stages of the union, both Artest and Adelman seem to have embraced each other's styles, with Adelman acknowledging his team is much more post-up oriented now and Artest saying Friday that he's a fan of the team game played by the Kings.

    Considering the past, that's a good start. In Indiana, part of Artest's discontent was with the offensive system run by Pacers coach Rick Carlisle.

    "It wasn't so much the (lack of) touches (with the Pacers)," said Artest, who was second on the Pacers in shooting attempts and averaged 19.4 points this season before being deactivated. "But in the NBA, guys know how to play basketball. Being a veteran, I had learned a lot. But I just felt like I was a rookie in Indiana. I'm a veteran. I'm a pretty smart player. I just felt the offense was more like a college (offense).

    "We were successful, but we also had great talent. Anytime you have me, Jermaine (O'Neal), a healthy Jeff Foster, a healthy Jamaal Tinsley, any coach can coach that group. At the same time, I still think the offense could have done better."

    Adelman's style, at least after two days, is more to his liking.

    "I like it here," he said. "It gives us a chance to win games. And in the playoffs, also, this style will give us a chance to win big in the playoffs. Everybody's a part of this offense."

    That may soon include Bonzi Wells. The shooting guard, who has been absent since tearing his groin Dec. 19, went through his first full practice Friday, with Petrie saying Wells is "real close to playing again."

    Wells is listed as day-to-day.

    And despite losing four of their last five games, the Kings are only three games out of the last playoff spot, with three teams between them and the eighth spot in the Western Conference. With the Artest-era kicked off, they'll move forward one game at a time.

    "He stepped right in and played aggressively as always," Kings center Brad Miller said of Artest's debut. "He was just really causing havoc - mayhem, I should say."

  8. #8
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Mark Kreidler: Overstepping their bounds?
    Maloofs upsetting balance that made Kings great
    By Mark Kreidler -- Bee Columnist
    Published 2:15 am PST Sunday, January 29, 2006
    For the longest time, what the Maloof brothers brought to the Kings was an almost exquisite understanding of the difference between having money and having wisdom. It was an understanding that brokered a franchise revival.
    Things hummed along, actually. Geoff Petrie and his basketball advisers handled the acquisition of talent. Rick Adelman put the talent to use in a system designed to accommodate specific types of athletes. The players themselves were more or less left to their own devices, allowed wide latitude as individuals and eccentrics.

    And Joe and Gavin Maloof did what they do best: They brought their enthusiasm, their business savvy and their bank account. They front-loaded their investment in salary and upgrades to the physical plant at and around Arco Arena. They showed up constantly. They cheer-led. They radiated positive vibes.

    Significantly, the Maloofs also seemed instinctively to understand what not to do. They didn't pretend to possess some vast and intricate basketball knowledge. They weren't Mark Cuban in Dallas. They gave Petrie a wide berth to do his thing, and supported him with virtually no conditions. Most important, they never allowed any voice but Petrie's on hoops matters.

    It was, upon reflection, a golden era in the franchise's history.

    And, increasingly, it appears to be over.

    The Maloofs' gaffe on

    ESPNews last week, in which they all but announced the Ron Artest trade before speaking with either Artest or Peja Stojakovic, capped a year in which the brothers (and, by extension, the family) have become more actively involved - seldom to the good - in the areas of the Kings' operations they once avoided.

    Twice now, that involvement has led directly to embarrassment, first when the Maloofs allowed the Kings to be played for fools in the Phil Jackson coaching escapade and then again when the Artest deal blew up, leaving hurt feelings and ill will scattered in the aftermath.

    Stojakovic mostly took the high road about not being contacted by Kings management while the deal was going down, but in a couple of interviews, notably one with, he made it clear he didn't appreciate being treated like chattel after more than seven years of organizational service. He was dead right about that. It was, for lack of a better word, unprofessional.

    The Kings came off looking disorganized and desperate, almost the film negative of the careful, considered (and usually successful) image Petrie spent years cultivating. It wasn't what the Maloofs intended. But that's the downside of going where you don't belong.

    The most difficult thing in sports, for most front-office executives, is figuring out how to gently keep ownership at arm's length on personnel decisions. The list of owners who actually have a deep enough knowledge of the sport and its dynamics to have a positive effect on personnel, at this point, is pretty much restricted to Cuban - and he's a freak, in the sense that he actually spends the majority of his time being an NBA owner.

    The Maloofs have gone the other way in recent years. They've added a recording company and a film/television production company to their résumés, in addition to their growing beer and liquor distributorships and their Las Vegas hotel and casino.

    They've almost got more pies than they have fingers to stick in them.

    At the same time, though, they've become selectively more involved in certain Kings matters. Or, to put it another way, they come blasting through the door when it's least expected - and, so far, least helpful.

    Whether this has put a strain on their relationship with Petrie is an open question. Those close to the executive say Petrie genuinely likes both brothers and is inclined to give them a pass on any mistakes of "enthusiasm," and there is no question that their time together with the Kings has produced more radiant moments than clunkers.

    On the other hand, the Artest deal was troublesome if it signaled a new level of upfront involvement by the Maloofs, an attempt by them to essentially reconfigure the roster themselves. That's a path to ruin that is already strewn with the carcasses of failed sports owners past, no matter how fanatical any of them considered themselves when it came to their teams.

    "Our working relationship has been great on all this kind of thing," Petrie said last week on the day the Artest trade finally came through. "We work together.

    "We haven't ever done anything (like this) when there wasn't a true consensus at the end. It has always been a very collective process, and this one wasn't any different."

    For their part, the Maloofs spent much of Wednesday reasserting Petrie's authority as the general manager after undermining that very authority with their TV appearance Tuesday. The brothers may have turned down some national interviews, but judging by their appearances on ESPN (twice), Fox Sports and TNT, in addition to their pregame session with the mass media in New York, you'd be hard-pressed to say which.

    Generally, Joe and Gavin want it known that Geoff is the basketball guy. Problem is, they've twice now made Petrie look like a person along for the ride.

    The Phil Jackson episode was so odd that it probably deserves its own asterisk. The Kings' season had just ended with a disappointing first-round playoff loss to Seattle, and Petrie had just undergone an angioplasty procedure and was laid up in the hospital when all the action occurred.

    But it's still instructive. The Maloofs contacted Jackson's agent mostly after listening to people whisper in their ear that Jackson would seriously consider coming to Sacramento (one of the brothers' charms is also one of their potential pitfalls: they earnestly solicit advice from all over, and much of it isn't worth the time it takes to repeat). They didn't wait to speak to Petrie. They pounded ahead.

    Veteran sports logic suggests that any agent playing the field for his client is going to make such a contact public, and, sure enough, the Maloof connection became known almost immediately. It didn't help that the Maloofs, with Petrie unavailable to them, went to a newspaper writer to secure the agent's phone number. Did they think they had a secret?

    The story broke, yet even after it did, the Maloofs failed to contact Adelman, an ordinary courtesy. Adelman was left twisting in the wind, a horrible public image for the coach who had just taken the franchise to its fifth consecutive 50-victory season.

    And, in the end, it was a shell game. Jackson never considered Sacramento a destination. He wrote an entire chapter's epilogue to his book "The Last Season" in which he discussed his decision to return to coaching the Lakers, and he mentioned only the New York Knicks as a serious other contender for his services.

    Petrie shrugged off the Jackson debacle as unique, and he reminded anyone who asked him that the owners have every right to inquire about a potential coach. But the Artest deal also seems to have the Maloofs' fingerprints on it.

    Donnie Walsh, the Pacers' top basketball executive, suggested this in an ESPN interview, saying Petrie had told him the Maloofs "were big fans of Artest" and wanted to explore a trade.

    Petrie, while discussing the anatomy of the deal only in the vaguest of terms, did allow that the Maloofs' involvement "doesn't always happen as early as it did" in this case. And even if it's impossible to believe Petrie would make a trade he didn't want (and while acknowledging that dealing Stojakovic makes sense on any number of levels), there is no question that the impetus on Artest did not come from Petrie. That was a Maloof production.

    It is also, historically speaking, a descending elevator. The book on heavily involved owners who actually do good on behalf of active rosters is remarkably slender.

    Petrie knows that. He also knows, as the Maloofs know, that the best years of their Kings' tenure came with Petrie controlling virtually all of the basketball decisions and Joe and Gavin minding the bigger picture - their overall salary commitment, infrastructure, marketing and promotions, fan satisfaction.

    Of course, that was then, when every move seemed to work and winning seasons followed one after the other. Now the water has gone choppier, and the Maloofs have people whispering in their ears louder than ever before. To whom they ultimately listen is the question.

    Whether the Artest-Stojakovic trade proves out one way or the other, the overt involvement of the Kings' owners in it opens a new chapter in their relationship with the basketball executive who made their money and passion amount to wins and attention. It may be Geoff Petrie's greatest challenge yet: trying to persuade his owners, in a time of franchise transition, that the old way is still the right one.

  9. #9
    Expect Delays blanket's Avatar
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    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    A couple of interesting things from that first article:

    The Pacers would have ended this three weeks ago if Clipper Corey Maggette's foot wasn't so damaged - and, you should know, if he wasn't so hard to get insured as a result.
    This helps validate the decision to not trade for Maggette.

    "There was another team I would have gone right to if this didn't work," Walsh said (and my guess - just a guess - is that it was Denver). "But no, I wasn't going to sit around when we were offered a good player and say, 'I'll just wait until the trading deadline.' "
    From the things we've read recently, my guess would be the Warriors. But if Aldridge thinks Denver, then I assume they must've offered something better than Watson/Nene, since that was reportedly on the table from the beginning.

    The same guys that are writing we got hosed were saying we wouldn't get anybody.
    I'd love to hear Walsh use the term "hosed"
    "I'll always be a part of Donnie Walsh."
    -Ron Artest, Denver Post, 12.28.05

  10. #10

    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    In Artest, Sacramento Gets A King-Size Nuisance

    By Michael Wilbon

    Thursday, January 26, 2006; Page E01

    No way would I have Ron Artest on my team. I wouldn't want him at practice, wouldn't want him in the dressing room, wouldn't want him in town. The Sacramento Kings are crazy for taking him in. Artest is poison, probably worse than T.O., and that's saying something.

    Right now, Artest will say all the right things. He'll go to Sacramento, bare his soul to the local media, pledge to the owners and coaches that he'll play as hard as humanly possible, tell everybody how much he's learned from all the drama he's brought on himself the last three or four years and how it'll be different from now on. For several weeks he'll practice like nobody's ever practiced. He'll probably record a couple of triple-doubles. He might lift the entire team for several weeks, make you think he is worthy of being a first-team all-star, a player the powers-that-be can build around since he's only 26 years old. He'll seduce the good folks of Sacramento, make them think he's just what they need, then . . .

    Boom! Ron Artest will do a 180. He'll flip, he'll flop, he'll disrupt the whole program. He'll go to his coach, Rick Adelman -- talk about a mismatch -- and ask for time off to promote his newest girl group. Or he'll go to Circuit City and apply for a part-time job so that he can get the discount on the newest electronic products. He'll change his mind on wanting to practice hard. He won't run the play called in the huddle because he'll just forget the play or failed to listen to the coach during the timeout.

    We pretty much know that Artest is going to wear out his welcome, and probably quickly, because we've seen it already . . . in his 2 1/2 seasons with the Bulls and his 4 1/2 seasons with the Indiana Pacers. We've even seen new evidence of Artest's lunacy within the last week or so. He and his agent actually told the Kings that Artest would be happy to come to Sacramento. So why, after the trade was consummated on Tuesday, did Artest then say he would be unhappy in Sacramento?

    Because that's what Artest does. Every day. A day or so after demanding the Pacers trade him, Artest took it back, said he wanted to stay in Indianapolis. One day it's, "Yeah baby, let's do Sacramento." And the next it's, "Sacramento? Why would I want to go there?"

    He misses games and alienates teammates. Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers' best player, has hated being Artest's teammate for most of the last two seasons. Artest broke Michael Jordan's ribs during a pickup games a few years ago. Depending on his mood, Artest is somewhere between a nuisance and completely disruptive. And nobody ever wins with a player of consequence who is so disruptive.

    Artest isn't just a clown, like Dennis Rodman was a clown. Artest is trouble and he's troubled. And if your basketball team comes to depend on him, it's in trouble, too.

    Just look at the Pacers. Thought to be a contender when the season began, the Pacers are 21-20, having lost six of their last eight games. They've lost three straight games by 10 points or more, and lost by 30 to the Cavaliers on Tuesday. Pacers bosses Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird say the Artest trade saga is no excuse for Indiana's recent slide.

    Okay, it's not an excuse, it's a fact. Artest sabotaged the team. He has missed 100 of the last 123 regular season Pacers games. So, yes, if you're the Pacers you had to get rid of Artest. But it shouldn't have taken this long, not 40 days. The Pacers could have had Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic 10 days into this mini-drama.

    And on the other side of this issue, why are the Kings doing this?

    Because they're desperate. They're taking on Artest because the Kings are the only show in Sacramento, and the show has fallen on hard times. The freewheeling Kings who passed so beautifully and scored 100-plus every night and captivated traditional NBA fans because they played such wonderfully choreographed team basketball . . . that team died when the Kings traded Chris Webber last year. Webber, Vlade Divac, Bobby Jackson, Hedo Turkoglu, Doug Christie, Peja . . . they're all gone now, except Mike Bibby. They were cheated out of a championship in 2002, when the refs gave a playoff game to the Lakers, and it's never been the same.

    Peja turned into a sulk, and with a year left on his contract the Kings wanted something for their former all-star, somebody who might be able to fill the seats while the team sits in last place in the Pacific Division. And because Artest has greatness in him some nights, and always is an attraction, the Maloof brothers, who own the team, are betting Artest can be their man. Look, the Maloofs are Vegas guys, so they're largely unafraid of a dice roll. The Maloofs also had better be ready to keep a good therapist on retainer.

    From here, I can't see the upside for Sacramento. The Pacers, however, ought to get some immediate bounce out of this. Stojakovic had grown stale in Sacramento and turned into a one-dimensional, jump-shooting whiner who proved he needs to be the third- or fourth-most important guy on a team to be productive in any meaningful way. He has none of Artest's toughness or defensive prowess or all-court savvy. But at least he'd rather be in uniform than producing music or selling flat-screens to get the discount.

    The most relieved person in all of this might be NBA Commissioner David Stern, who must be tired of guys telling the league where they are, and are not, willing to play. Last year it was Jimmy Jackson and Alonzo Mourning who were willing to sit, without pay, until they could join a team to their liking. Artest was able to get away with that for one day, Tuesday, when it appeared the deal was going to fall apart. But when Walsh told Artest the Pacers would simply let him sit without pay for the rest of this season, Artest changed his tune.

    Artest has already missed one season of salary. He's not Mourning, who had $100 million banked when he decided to sit last season until an acceptable suitor (Miami) came calling. Artest can't afford to miss a year's salary for a second straight season. What, he was going to wait until the Spurs or Pistons came calling?

    And as skewed as Artest's thinking often is, he thought this one through pretty well and boarded a plane to join his new teammates, the ones who have no idea that sooner or later their world is going to be turned upside down.

  11. #11
    Member Hicks's Avatar
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    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    I like Wilbon, but after I spotted a 2nd incorrect fact I stopped reading.

  12. #12

    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    You're going to make us read the whole darn thing to find the mistake(s)?

  13. #13
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    The article from Wilbon, was 3 days ago

  14. #14
    Member Hicks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sixthman
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    You're going to make us read the whole darn thing to find the mistake(s)?
    Well first we didn't have Ron for 4 1/2 years. We also could NOT have had Peja within 10 days of Ron asking for a trade.

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    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    Thanks again UB. I wouldn't pick up on half of this stuff if you didn't post it.

  16. #16

    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    Michael Wilbon is terrific. His overall thoughts on Ron are straightforward.

    P.S. I never heard Ron got a job at Circuit City ... that's outrageous if true.

  17. #17
    Administrator/ The Real Jay Jay@Section12's Avatar
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    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Pacesetter
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    Michael Wilbon is terrific. His overall thoughts on Ron are straightforward.

    P.S. I never heard Ron got a job at Circuit City ... that's outrageous if true.
    He didn't. Before he ever played an NBA game, he applied for the job, to get the employee discount. The Bulls told him "no way" and everyone still laughs about that one.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you

  18. #18

    Default Re: If still interested, some articles about the Pacers from around the NBA

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay@Section204
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    He didn't. Before he ever played an NBA game, he applied for the job, to get the employee discount. The Bulls told him "no way" and everyone still laughs about that one.

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