Watching Artest win title painful for Pacers fans

June 18, 2010
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After last night’s Ron Artest-fueled L.A. Lakers NBA title triumph, I have but one question.

Where was Artest’s therapist when he was in Indianapolis?

For those of you who went off to the land of nod before the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in the seventh game of the NBA finals last night, you missed Artest thanking his therapist during a manic on-court interview minutes after the game.

First and foremost, Artest said he needed to thank his therapist.

Huh? He must be joking! Well, it’s difficult to tell with Artest.

I wonder if Artest’s therapist has helped him come to grips with the damage he has caused the Indiana Pacers and this city.

It could be argued that Artest destroyed much of the good karma that Reggie Miller built up in this community for the Pacers and the game of professional basketball over Miller’s 18-year career.

And that’s saying something, because Reggie built up a lot of good karma here. But Artest was an equally good demolition demon.

Artest’s havoc-wreaking career here reached a crescendo with the brawl in Detroit—where he charged up into the fans and started throwing haymakers at whoever.

But it also included asking for time off to produce a rap record (a bad one I might add) and his posing with Larry Bird on the cover of Sports Illustrated then turning around and betraying Pacers ownership and executives, not to mention fans, by demanding a trade. There were, of course, any number of other bizarre acts, many of which seemed to be clear signals to fans that he just didn’t care much about them.

Artest helped Pacers fans and the rest of central Indiana see the worst side of the NBA and professional sports. The fact that Artest accomplished so much in only three years in Indiana is really quite remarkable.

Then last night, those of us who watched the game, had to wince when we heard Magic Johnson say this title is redemption for Artest “after all that has happened to him,” as though Artest was an innocent victim.

I would argue that Artest is the catalyst to much of his own pain. He might have gotten over it with the help of his therapist, but the Pacers and this city’s sports scene have not.

There are two other questions Pacers fans are likely asking themselves today.

First, what might have been had Artest been able to control himself while a Pacer? Remember, the Pacers were pounding the powerhouse Pistons in Detroit the night the fight broke out. The Pacers had all the look of a champion that year. And a franchise can ride out a lot of bad times under the shadow of a championhsip banner.

Second, is there no justice? How could Artest be crowned a champion while our beloved Reggie never won a title?

While Artest is fitted for his championships ring, the Pacers struggle to sell tickets to fans forced to wade through the rubble that Artest left behind.

No, Artest isn’t the lone culprit. There were other players who swung wrecking balls at the house that Reggie built.

And it’s true that former Pacers President Donnie Walsh was responsible for bringing Artest here from Chicago. It was a big gamble to bring an NBA title to Indy, and it almost worked.

But Artest struck the biggest, most damaging, blows.

The Pacers haven’t recovered financially.

The Blue and Gold fan base hasn’t recovered psychologically.

And at this point, I’m not sure any amount of therapy is going to completely undo the damage done.
 

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  • Hey Anthony
    You really need to listen to his comments before bashing Artest - he said this about Indiana last night:

    "I was so young, egotistical and I bailed out on Donnie [Walsh], Larry [Bird], Jamaal [Tinsley]," Artest said. "I had a chance win with those guys and feel like almost a coward. I never thought God would be put in this situation again."
  • how about some restitution
    Great, Ron has come to terms to what he did to this city and the Pacers. How about some restitution? Put your money where your mouth is, Ron. You caused a lot of damage here. Words are cheap!
  • I've seen
    Dude, I've seen the interview. You don't have the quote exactly right. You make Ron sound a bit more coherent than he is. And I'm not here to say Ron Artest is 100 percent bad. Very few people are. But he still needs to realize what he did, and it would be nice if he not only took responsibility for what he did, but tried to make some kind of restitution for that. That would show me that he truly is sorry for what he has done. Ironically, the one person Artest failed to mention last night in his rambling quasi-apology is Reggie Miller. Did he forget Reggie was on the team? Oh, and he forgot to apologize to all the Pacers ticket holders and sponsors. That would have been nice.
  • Yes, Painful!
    When Ronron hit the three at the end, I grimaced and my wife said "I guess you dont want LA to win?" "No, I dont care if LA wins, but I dont want Artest to be the hero, and he's having a great game."

    I agree completely. No one doubted his basketball talent and he played big for LA last night, but he needed to be doing that as a Pacer. I blame him for the playoff loss to Detroit during the 61 game win season. I blame him for starting the destruction of the Pacers. I blame HIM...and I will throw Jackson in there too, but Artest was the catalyst. It really was painful to watch.
  • Artest was the Symptom not the Cause
    As I look back on the 'glory' years. I see Artest as the symptom and not the cause. I believe Isiah Thomas was the real problem. How did we get Tinsley? Isiah, Artest, Isiah, folding of the CBA, Isiah, downfall of the Knicks, Isiah. Hey, he was a great player, but he has left carnage everywhere he's gone since. Isiah set in motion the wheels that brought Artest, Tinsley, and Jackson to Indy. You could blame Walsh, but you have to put someone in place and empower them to win. Walsh did that, but then was left with the mess when he pulled the plug on Isaih.

    The only way I really put Artest back to even is if he sends his ring to Reggie. Say sorry, here's the one I messed up. I'll go earn mine now. Isiah should send one to Reggie too.
  • You people are ridiculous!
    Anthony Schoettle wrote:
    "He might have gotten over it with the help of his therapist, but the Pacers and this cityâ??s sports scene have not."

    Well it's time that you do get over it and quit whining like a kid asking for his ball back because you lost the game!!! It's a game!!!

    Your restitution idea is like you write something stupid and the IBJ gets sued and they don't recover. Well 6 yrs later (pacers piston brawl...2004)they want some of their money back from you because you got a job at the star and are doing very well.

    Artest shouldn't have to give anything back because of the managements failures at good solid draft picks and free agent moves they botch every single year!!! Watch another botched draft pick next week when they pick Gordon H.

    Artest repeatedly said last night thank you for his second chance....and if it was left up to you there would not be such a thing...Thank God you are just a beat writer!!!!
  • Bird was the problem
    You guys are Morons. Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh are why the Pacers suck not Ron artest. The players hated Carlisle so Bird trades away the players THEN decides to fire Carlisle. They didn't have to trade Artest. Bird should have known better then to be on the SI Cover with Artest. That was the problem. Artest is emotional and a bit delusional at times but he is one of the best all around players in the league. Artest needed a mentor and the Pacers screwed that up. The Pacers listened to a bunch of whiny pseudo Pacer fans that said they weren't going to support the team with these "Thugs" on the team. Well guess what? You have a bunch of snowflakes on there now and you still don't go because they suck! Fans like winners more then anything and if the Pacers would have kept Jack, Artest and Harrington with Granger Hibbert and a point guard, the Blue and Gold would be in the playoffs and Artest wouldn't be winning a title. Since Bird traded Ron, Artest has helped 3 teams make the playoffs. Artest is the MAN!Bird has had plenty of time to fix the Pacers, but he hasn't done it. Bird is the issue in Indy, quit blaming Artest.
    • !!!
      Couldn't have said it better myself!!!
    • In defense of Ron
      While Artest is unquestionably a mercurial character with lots of internal demons to struggle with, I think your comments are unfair. Remember, Ron didn't hit anyone when he went into the stands in Detroit after getting a cup of beer, including cup, right in the face. And he wanted a trade because he struggled under Rick Carlisle's "call every play from the bench" coaching style, which turned off lots of fans as well.
      Ron played hard when he was here, and I always felt he was the Pacer's MVP, not Jermaine. And he loved the challenge of playing defense, something that can't be said of many Pacers since. To blame Ron for the Pacer's decline is excessive - in fact, their decline really started when they (under duress, I'll admit) traded him away.
      Further, I don't understand what "restitution" he owes anyone here.
    • strange sympathy
      There is some very strange aura around Ron Artest that must make people take pity on him. Truly, I find it kind of unbelievable this outpouring of sympathy for the guy. Maybe I'm missing something.
    • Not Since
      Not since the fight in Detroit have I watched a Pacers or NBA game. Used to be a big fan. Grew up watching the Pacers at the Coliseum. Too bad L.A. won. I've got no respect for anybody that would have Artest on their team.
    • Sick of the poor Reggie comments
      Gimme a break with the "poor Reggie" comments. The Pacers didn't win an NBA title with Reggie Miller primarily because Reggie just wasn't good enough. It's rare to see a team win a title without an absolute elite level player and Reggie was not at that level. He was a good player but certainly not great in the way Peyton Manning is for example. Reggie Miller's lack of being able to move to that next level as a player is the single biggest reason why he never won a title. Not blaming him though...maybe that's all the talent he had but he's not even close to being in the same league as MJ, Kobe, Shaq, etc. Players like that win titles. Reggie might have been a good supporting player to a superstar but the Pacers lack of a superstar was why they still have no NBA titles.
    • Artest
      Artest is the poster child of bad behavior fostered by the hip hop culture. And he has a lot of company in the NBA. He's a perfect example of a punk kid that doesn't have guideance and grows up to be a punk adult. How sad that so many people condone or even admire him just because of his basketball skills.

      Wrong, very wrong......
    • Rush, is that you?
      Hey BerwickGuy, your thinly-veiled racist comments are just that: thinly-veiled. Weren't you supposed to move to Costa Rica? Kinda surprised you didn't blame the whole thing on Obama.

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