Nothing really surprising, but it's nice to know the squad seems te be focused and that JJ could pursue a secondary career IF his basketball career would end prematurely.
"Pacers say time for fun is done
Players enjoy hijinks of FanJam, but they realize they have a long season to prepare for.
By Sekou Smith
October 18, 2004
Rookies were embarrassed, Ron Artest received his first technical foul and now, after dispensing with the niceties of training camp, the Indiana Pacers can get down to the business of chasing an NBA championship.
Artest said as much Sunday night, minutes after the Pacers' annual FanJam celebration ended before a crowd of 8,797 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"It feels good to give the fans the enjoyment they need before the start of the regular season, but we know it's really time to get serious," said Artest, the NBA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year who received his technical for playfully hanging on the rim four minutes into the scrimmage that highlighted the event. "The season is all highs and lows, and this (night) being all highs is actually pretty fun.
"But it's time to get back to the business of winning."
The Pacers are 2-0 in exhibition games, having beaten Washington in the opener last Monday in Muncie, Ind., and Memphis on Saturday night at FedEx Forum. Their home debut comes Tuesday night against Minnesota.
The 108-91 win over the Grizzlies marked the first time Artest and fellow All-Star Jermaine O'Neal suited up with the Pacers' most significant offseason addition, backup shooting guard Stephen Jackson.
O'Neal, who sat out the Washington game along with Artest, led the way with 22 points and four blocks. Artest added 19 points and Jackson 17.
The chemistry between the three of them was instant, Artest noted. And that is a good thing for a trio that will be asked to do the bulk of the scoring this season.
"Everybody was sharing the ball (in Memphis) and Stephen played great," Artest said. "I was a little worried before the game because he was talking about playing a role and stuff. But it was nice finally getting out there on the floor together.
"I'd watched him play the last couple of years, played against him, and I didn't have a full appreciation of his game until now. To me, the pieces fit. And as long as everybody wants to win., we'll be fine. We still played hard (Saturday night), even though it was a preseason game.
"I just think we're going to be real tough to deal with when you look at all the guys we have."
Sunday night was a chance for fans, who were admitted free, to get a good look at the rookie crew of David Harrison, Rashad Wright, Randy Holcomb, Desmon Farmer and John Edwards.
After the scrimmage the rookies sang solos by order of Pacers veteran Reggie Miller, who stages his rookie talent show/public hazing every year after FanJam.
Despite having far more performers this time around, none of the current rookies was able to top James Jones' crowd-pleasing performance of a year ago.
Holcomb and Farmer tried singing, while Wright and Edwards took turns reciting rap lyrics without much success. Harrison closed the talent portion of the evening with a scream-filled rendition of the Righteous Brothers' classic "You've Lost that Loving Feeling."
Jones, whose job it was to prepare the rookies, apologized for their less than stellar performances.
"I feel bad for setting the bar so high," he said with a smile. "I really feel like it's my fault these guys didn't get the reaction they were looking for. The fact is I was the best (rookie singer) that's come through here and probably the best that will ever come through here. I give them the credit for trying, but the truth is they weren't blessed with the talent that I have."
Jokes aside, Jones reiterated Artest's point about the season taking on a more serious tone now that FanJam is over.
"All of this fun stuff has its time and we all like it," he said, "but today is like the kick off for when things start to get real. The whole attitude changes. We had our fun; now it's time to get back to business."
They actually started a day early, Anthony Johnson said.
"Memphis was a good test for us because they play pressure defense and we were working some new wrinkles in on offense," Johnson said. "It's one thing to go through it all in practice and something completely different to watch it work against another playoff team.
"Memphis will come out and guard you, and we were able to make some good plays. And it really goes back to last season, the roll we were on and how this team came together. We've set the bar high. Now we have to continue to make good things happen."