(Note: I posted part of this on the temporary site last night).

When Artest first returned to practice and much was made of it I asked this question:
"What took so long? Wasn't he cleared weeks ago to return?"

At the time I don't think I got any backup and I didn't find the relevant posts. Last night I ran across the 'smoking gun' and today I found even more.

So I am left curious about the hub-bub when he finally did return and if a little too much wasn't made of it. After seeing these articles that I will repost, my original question still stands ("What took so long? Wasn't he cleared weeks ago to return?")

I guess I am in a skeptical mood since the PR press conference was held with all the associate "big news" leaks which turned out to be a pretty run of the mill deal. So I think we need to be careful and remember history a little better rather than taking things at their face value. There is some orchestration going on.

Article number 1 snippet from the Indy Star and Mark Montieth Nov 23, 2004:

Artest, O'Neal and Jackson will be allowed to practice with the team during their suspensions, although they are being given some time off to "catch their breath and regroup," Carlisle said. They are not allowed to attend games.
http://www.indystar.com/articles/2/196900-1742-245.html

Article Snippet number 2 from Boston Globe Dec 19, 2004 (highlights added by me)

As for Artest, the league at first told Indiana that it would not allow Artest to practice. The Pacers thought that overly harsh and asked the league to reconsider. It did. Artest has been given the OK to practice and Walsh said he expects the future Berry Gordy Jr. to be at practice this week.
http://www.boston.com/sports/article...ill_exist?pg=2

Complete articles:

Prosecutor IDs the fan accused of throwing cup
Pacers hope for break on suspensions



We hold hope that this thing can be looked at some more and that there's a possibility it could change a little," said Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle (right), with Reggie Miller. -- Matt Kryger / The Star


By Mark Montieth
mark.montieth@indystar.com
November 23, 2004


The fan who threw the plastic cup of liquid at Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest during Friday's Pistons-Pacers game was identified Monday as a 39-year-old West Bloomfield, Mich., man.

John Green, who has several criminal convictions, including felony assault, was identified through videotape of the fight that ensued in the stands.

Also Monday, police said they had received nine complaints from fans who said they were assaulted by Pacers players, and team officials slipped into a defensive stance.

"We hold hope that this thing can be looked at some more and that there's a possibility it could change a little," coach Rick Carlisle said. "We owe that to our fans to have some hope."

Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh called Friday's fighting a "low point" for professional sports and the franchise. He said team owners Herb and Mel Simon would issue a statement and possibly have a news conference.

The implicated fan told reporters he didn't throw the cup. "I wish the whole thing didn't happen," Green told the Associated Press. "I'm sure the NBA players that got involved in it wish it never happened, the fans never had wished that it had happened."

Green, a contractor, has been convicted of felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm. He was not supposed to drink alcohol as a condition of his probation, Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca said. Green has three drunken-driving convictions, Gorcyca said.

A united front

Meanwhile, Pacers officials expressed unconditional support for Artest, who was suspended for the season, and two other suspended players, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal, and declared optimism for the rest of the season despite their severely depleted roster. Jackson and O'Neal, who also struck fans, were suspended for 30 and 25 games, respectively.

The team is expected to have seven players available for tonight's game against Boston at Conseco Fieldhouse because of the suspensions and injuries.

The Pacers' 7-3 record was the second-best in the Eastern Conference. The team lost a three-point game to Orlando on Saturday with just six players.

"I'll guarantee you our players will play as hard as they can every night," team President Larry Bird said.

The NBA Players Association has promised to appeal Stern's ruling, and Pacers officials expressed their disappointment in the decision at news conferences Monday.

Bird and Walsh said the Pacers remain solidly behind Artest, who has been involved in numerous controversies since coming to the team in a trade in February 2002.

Artest was suspended for 12 games two seasons ago, when he led the NBA in flagrant fouls. He was suspended for a game last season because of a flagrant foul. Earlier this season he was benched by Carlisle for "conduct detrimental to the integrity of the team."

"Right now we're backing Ronnie 100 percent," Bird said. "Who knows about the future of any of our players? We will support Ronnie. We're behind him. When we get down the road, we can answer (questions about his future with the team) a little bit further."

Added Walsh: "Ronnie is a good young kid. He's obviously made mistakes. Some of the mistakes have been real mistakes over the last three years, not so much the last two years.

"Some of the things he does that seem to be not rising to the level of something real bad get blown into something bigger than that."

Artest, O'Neal and Jackson will be allowed to practice with the team during their suspensions, although they are being given some time off to "catch their breath and regroup," Carlisle said. They are not allowed to attend games.

Players apologize

In statements issued Sunday and Monday, O'Neal and Artest expressed remorse.

"I apologize for the events of last Friday. Like everyone, as I watched from the court, I was distressed and shocked to see the situation spiral out of control," O'Neal said.

"When a number of belligerent fans began to charge onto the court, and it was clear that there was no security in place, I feared for my own safety and for the safety of my teammates. I regret what happened last Friday, and I promise to work as hard as I can to help restore respect for NBA basketball."

Artest apologized, too.

"I think people know that I have always tried to interact positively with fans in every arena I've been to," he said. "I am deeply sorry for the Pacers, people in the state of Indiana and everywhere else in America and around the world where there are NBA fans who have seen me turn things around in my life these past few years."

On Monday night, Artest said on radio station WHHH-FM (96.3) that he hoped to be back in uniform for the playoffs despite his suspension.

"I have so much confidence in my squad, and I have confidence I'll be back," Artest said. "I'm out for the season, but I'm hoping to be back for the playoffs."

Reggie Miller, who was suspended for one game for leaving the bench after Detroit center Ben Wallace confronted Artest after a foul, is expected to be recovered from a broken left hand in about two weeks. He said the players are still hopeful of qualifying for the playoffs.

"We have enough core group guys who can hold it down until we get the rest of the cavalry back," he said.

Knight Ridder Newspapers and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Call Star reporter Mark Montieth at (317) 444-6406.

-----------------------------------------
Fighting chances still exist

December 19, 2004


Page 2 of 4 -- The Pacers have put together a patchwork team on the fly. They signed New Orleans Hornets rejects. They brought in old paint Michael Curry. Last week, Jackson and O'Neal got some practice time in. If nothing happens on the legal front, they'll be back in a month or so.


As for Artest, the league at first told Indiana that it would not allow Artest to practice. The Pacers thought that overly harsh and asked the league to reconsider. It did. Artest has been given the OK to practice and Walsh said he expects the future Berry Gordy Jr. to be at practice this week.

The Pacers hit the skids after a brief honeymoon following the suspensions. But they've since gotten back Reggie Miller and Jeff Foster, although other rotation guys (Austin Croshere, Jamaal Tinsley) have been in and out. The Pacers are 0-5 when Tinsley doesn't play.

Carlisle has kept Indiana focused on the short term and, incredibly, they are still very much in the hunt in the Central Division, trailing leader Cleveland by only 1 1/2 games. They would be the sixth seed had the playoffs started yesterday.

Walsh is hopeful.

"Before all this happened, we were playing really well and we were kicking their [rear ends] the night it happened," he said, speaking of the Pacers' convincing win at Detroit Nov. 19. "I thought then that we had as good a chance as anyone to win it all."

And they still might. We still don't know what the arbitrator is going to say concerning the severity of the suspensions and if they are appealable to someone other than Stern. There remains the possibility that Artest's suspension might be reduced. But even with O'Neal and Jackson coming back, the Pacers will be in the hunt in the East.

-------

Links are:
http://www.indystar.com/articles/2/196900-1742-245.html
http://www.boston.com/sports/article...ill_exist?pg=2

===================

If nothing else I feel a little vindicated in finding this info. I was sure I'd read Artest had been OK'd to practice LONG before it happened.

What this all means... I don't know...
It does mean we were all a bit misinformed at some point and manipulated a bit. Intentionally? I don't know....
For what ends?

-Bball