var yuipath = 'clientscript/yui';
var yuicombopath = '';
var remoteyui = false;
else // Load Rest of YUI remotely (where possible)
var yuipath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/2.9.0/build';
var yuicombopath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/combo';
var remoteyui = true;
Artest: "Cartwright is the best coach I have played for"
Artest thanks Bulls for trade that made him a star
February 11, 2004
BY LACY J. BANKS SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST
Former Bulls forward Ron Artest returned to Chicago on Tuesday as a freshly minted All-Star, having helped the Indiana Pacers to the NBA's best record.
But before Artest would accept any commendations, he wanted to express his gratitude to the Bulls for including him in the seven-player trade in February 2002 that sent him, Brad Miller, Ron Mercer and Kevin Ollie to the Pacers for Jalen Rose, Travis Best and a salary-cap obscurity named Norman Richardson.
Artest, Miller and Elton Brand -- the Bulls' starting frontcourt at one time -- all have become All-Stars since leaving the team.
"I probably never would have made the All-Star team if I had stayed with the Bulls,'' Artest said. "Definitely not this soon. The losing got to be too much for me. It was tearing me apart. I was playing frustrated ball because I wanted to win so badly. So them trading me was the best thing that could have happened to me at that time. It helped save my career.''
Maybe even his sanity. Artest said the only reason he wanted to stay with the Bulls was to play for coach Bill Cartwright.
"Bill Cartwright treated me like a son, and I believe he was fired too soon,'' Artest said. "Bill helped me out with a lot of my game, and I owe much of my progress to him. Maybe if Bill had not stayed with the triangle offense, he could have saved his job. And if they had kept Elton Brand while still adding Eddy Curry and Brad Miller, we would have had an awesome front line. Of all the NBA coaches I've played under, Bill's the best.''
Artest continued his development with the Pacers under coach Isiah Thomas, fired last summer, and now under Rick Carlisle.
"I had a nice relationship with Isiah and maybe a better one with Rick Carlisle,'' Artest said. "Isiah was great. He wanted to win. But we are winning even better with Rick, and I have a pretty good understanding with him now.''
It wasn't always that way. Earlier this season, Carlisle would bench Artest, chew him out and threaten suspension for what Carlisle described as "behavior that is not in the best interest of the team.''
"But I had a nice talk with Rick and [operations chief Larry Bird],'' Artest said. "We came to an understanding and worked things out.''
Bird and Carlisle knew that Artest's talent, work ethic and dogged will to win were worth the trouble he can cause. Artest has become one of the league's most feared and revered players.
"Guys don't like to play against him because he's so athletic and they don't like the way he handles them,'' New York Knicks forward Kurt Thomas said. "He's a very aggressive player who likes to guard you tough, put his hands and body on you, and a lot of guys don't like that. Artest has really come a long way in a short period.''
Now he is receiving honors that few figured ever would come his way, especially when he frequently would play like a maniac with the Bulls. He would vent his anger by kicking the ball into the stands, punching the stanchions, pounding the scorer's table, threatening to go into the stands to duke it out with hecklers and drawing more flagrant fouls, technical fouls and suspensions than his coaches could tolerate. That's why he became expendable trade bait.
But Artest returned to the cradle of his NBA career Tuesday as a milder and immensely grateful man.
"I thank the Bulls for drafting me and giving me a chance to play,'' he said. "But I also thank them for trading me at the right time. My game wasn't going to grow in the triangle. I had to get with a team that played more wide-open ball.''
That team is not the Pacers. Carlisle coaches his teams to play with restraint, prioritizing tough team defense and low scores.
"But we're winning,'' said Artest, who entered Tuesday averaging career highs of 17.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 steals. "That's what matters most.''