I found this article I wrote a year ago, and still agree with it, so I thought I would re-post it.
Artest Is Worth The Trouble
October 26, 2003
When the Pacers acquired Ron Artest from the Chicago Bulls in February of 2002, many Pacers fans had no idea what they were getting. Most knew he was a good defender but beyond that most fans had no idea. Who knew he was as good an all around player as he is and who knew the troubles he would cause.
Those troubles have led to a summer filled with rumors about Ron being traded. The common thought was that Bird and Carlisle would not be able to coexist with Ron Artest.
Ron Artest is the most controversial player in the Pacers NBA history. His on-court problems have been well publicized. Many have asked why don't the Indiana Pacers just get rid of the guy. He is not worth the trouble. Surely they could get something for him.
Lets check in and see just what Carlisle is saying about Ron right now as the Pacers get set to open the 2003-2004 NBA season. From the Indianapolis Star preview section Sunday October 26, 2003.
Carlisle loves his energy and confidence."He's a unique person, and I mean that in a very good way," Carlisle said. "You don't run across guys like him every day in this league and it's fun being around him."Carlisle was witness to the uniqueness of Artest after practice the morning of the Pacers' preseason game with Minnesota on Oct. 17. Artest wanted to stay and continue working out. Carlisle told him to go home and save his energy for the game that night. Artest threw a fit, then went home and played on the court behind his house. He came back a few hours later to score 30 points against the Timberwolves."His energy never seems to waver and I find that remarkable," Carlisle said.
Sounds as though the new coach is starting to like Ron Artest almost as much as former coach Isiah Thomas. Why is that? Why do his coaches like him so much. What do they know that most of the national media does not know. Two things, Ron is a fanatical worker and he is also a very talented NBA basketball player. Artest is simply too good to get rid of.
What makes a player work as hard as Ron? Where does that desire come from? We have all heard the stories about his work ethic and how in March of 2002 while the Pacers team was in Detroit, Ron went to a local park after the game day shoot around just so he could continue to play basketball. One gets the sense that Ron wished the NBA season lasted 12 months a year and that they played a game every night and had a three hour hard practice each and every morning. Ron Artest has a desire to be a great basketball player.
I don't know about other Pacers fans, but this Pacer fan wishes there were 11 other players on the Pacers roster just like Ron. If every player had his work ethic, his desire, his basketball ability the Pacers would not ever lose in the first round of the playoffs again.
The sad thing is Ron Artest should be well known for his play on the court, for his talent, for his tenacious defense, but instead he is best known for his antics. This should upset Artest to no end. Hopefully he is determined to change his public persona. He should be the player the NBA markets as everything good in todays NBA. He should be an example for kids about the value of hard work and the ability to overcome adversity.
The NBA would be a much better league if every player played as hard as Ron and if every player wanted to win as badly as Ron does.
I'll never forget a scene from the Pacers - Dallas Mavs game last Thanksgiving at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers were leading by 9 points with just over 2 minutes to play in the game. The Mavs had just scored five straight points so the Pacers called a timeout and in the huddle Ron Artest is screaming at his teammates. As his teammates tried to calm Ron down he just kept saying I want to kill them, kill them. kill them. The fans who were seated near the bench looked a little bit scared. I had a huge smile on my face, I wish all 12 players had the same attitude.
What about Ron's troubles. His outbursts, his flagrant fouls , his distractions, afterall wasn't Ron the reason the Pacers ended the season 11-19 after starting the season 37-15. Perhaps he was a factor in the collapse, but what people don't want to admit is that Ron was a huge part of the Pacers 37-15 record. Without Ron the Pacers were 5-8 last season. With Ron their record was 43-26.
Will Ron mature, will he learn to control his temper, I say yes, I say he is worth the trouble, worth the gamble. People seem to forget Ron Artest is still only 23 years old.
The best way to control Artest is to give him more responsibility, more influence on the team, more leadership opportunities. Put more on his shoulders. Bring him into the inner circle of the team. Use him as an example of what Pacer basketball is all about.
Could all this blow up, could Artest's temper ruin his career and the Pacers franchise. Yes it could, however he is too good a player, too good a person to give up on. There is not a false bone in Ron's body, he does not do anything to try an get publicity, he is in many ways the anti-Rodman. Ron wants to do the right thing, he wants to play by the rules but he loses his temper from time to time and can't help himself. Dennis Rodman was all about self promotion.
Ron's offensive game has improved each and every summer. This year he is much quicker and a much better ball handler. In the preseason he was regularly beating his man off the dribble again and again, even Kevin Garnett had trouble defending Artest.
Artest's greatest benefit to the Pacers is not his defense, not his offense, not his rebounding or any of that. It is the energy, the toughness both mentally and physically that he brings. Artest brings a swagger and a level of confidence that propels his teammates to do things they otherwise would not or could not do. Look at how much trouble most young players have excelling in the playoffs, Al Harrington and Jonathan Benders and young players throughout the whole NBA struggle in the playoffs, but not Ron. I get the sense that Ron feels most at home in the playoffs because that is the only time the other players are playing as hard as he is.
Ron Artest is the Pacers best creator, he makes a greater number of good passes, he creates more offense for others than any other player on the team. When the shoot clock winds down the ball often is on Ron's hands and he often can make a play.
The more you see Ron play the more you like him. Really the only way to truly appreciate his basketball playing ability is to see him in person, you cannot appreciate his overall game on TV. As Tom Tolbert said in the playoff series against the Celtics last season the more you see Ron the more you like him.
Tommy Heinsoln says that no one does a better job of defending Paul Pierce one-on-one than Ron Artest.
Like it or not, like Ron or not, but the Pacers will only go as far as Ron can take them.
The Pacers need Ron Artest, he is the most important player on the team, maybe not the best or the most valuable, but he is the most important.
Will he have a perfect season, not get any flagrant fouls, not get any technicals, not lose control and throw things, no of course not. But I do predict a much more in control player in every aspect of his game.
Perhaps I am being selfish, I admit I love the way Ron plays, I love watching him play basketball. Next time you get a chance to see a Pacers game in person watch Ron for a part of the game exclusively and you'll see what I am talking about. He is fun to watch.
No Ron Artest should not be traded he is the heart and soul of this team, and yes he is worth the trouble.