Larry Brown is now criticizing Rick Carlisle.
Brown criticizes Carlisle
Detroit coach says Pacers' campaigning on Artest's behalf is not way to win award.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle (left) called members of the media in support of forward Ron Artest for Defensive Player of the Year, which he won. -- John Harrell / Associated Press
• Pacers bide their time
• Pistons' Brown criticizes Pacers' Carlisle
By Mark Montieth
April 29, 2004
Now Rick Carlisle is being double-teamed. But he's not looking for help.
Larry Brown joined in the criticism Wednesday of the Indiana Pacers' coach for his promotion of Ron Artest for Defensive Player of the Year, one day after Gregg Popovich's complaints were reported.
Popovich, speaking with a San Antonio radio station on Monday, accused Carlisle of producing "totally unsubstantiated" statistics to back Artest's candidacy and criticized him for calling some of the NBA media members who vote for the award.
Popovich had a leading candidate for the award in Bruce Bowen, while Brown had one in Ben Wallace -- who won the past two seasons while playing for Carlisle in Detroit.
Brown chimed in on the issue while talking with Detroit writers Wednesday.
"I don't think (campaigning) is right," Brown said. "I don't think there's any place for it.
"I have a lot of pride in what Ben has done, but stats are a bunch of baloney. Most people use toilet paper for that, or wrap dead fish up in it. But I would never take anything away from Ron Artest. He had a great year and Pop felt the same way."
Carlisle has been greatly amused by the fallout from Artest's award and feels no anger toward Popovich or Brown. He appeared Tuesday on the same San Antonio radio station that aired Popovich's original comments.
"It was a hoot," Carlisle said. "I had fun with it."
Carlisle, while not wanting to escalate the verbal jousting, stood behind the defensive statistic that Popovich and Brown ridiculed.
At his request, two members of his video staff, Rob Cleveland and Mike Mannix, reviewed each of Artest's defensive possessions over the course of the season and charted how his opponents fared. After about 100 combined hours of research they found that the players Artest guarded averaged 9.4 shots and 8.3 points per game, figures the NBA included in its news release for the defensive award.
"People throw out these bogus, unsubstantiated stats, so you give them a little static for it," Popovich told San Antonio writers Wednesday.
Carlisle said he doubted the research won the award for Artest, because Artest also was the leading vote-getter among the coaches, who select the all-defensive team.
Bowen and Wallace also were named to the first team.
"I'm glad to hear that both Larry and Pop voted for Ron for first-team all-defense, because I voted for Ben and Bowen first-team," Carlisle said.
Carlisle also defended his effort to call voters to support some of his players for postseason honors, something he also did two years ago while coaching the Pistons, but not last year.
"I'm a guy who knows this is a players' league and I'm going to support my players any way I can if I feel they're deserving," Carlisle said.
"I'm amused that Larry and Pop believe someone like me can have that kind of influence on the media, but I just don't see it."
Artest wanted to let the issue die Wednesday, but he took exception to Popovich's claim that he did not guard the opposing team's best offensive player most nights.
"I'm trying to think of one night I didn't," Artest said.
On Tuesday, Artest had offered to play Bowen one-on-one, with the winner taking the Defensive Player of the Year award. That notion was the subject of more humor.
"Neither one of them would probably score," Popovich said. "They'd probably both beat the hell out of each other. They'd be suspended for the next game."
Ultimately, Popovich's assertions about Artest were viewed as an attempt -- although perhaps belated -- to back his player for the honor.
"I feel like the whole organization was supporting me," Bowen told San Antonio writers. "Whenever you get a coach backing a player, it makes the player feel good to know that. It's sort of like saying I have your back in battle. I appreciate Pop for that. Pop was expressing his opinion, which he's entitled to.
"It just so happened it turned into a little circus, so to speak."
Call Star reporter Mark Montieth at (317) 444-6406.