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Evilmav2
09-09-2003, 08:20 PM
Bird, Carlisle stick with Artest
Pacers' new president, coach debunk popular notion by saying they want to keep the team's controversial forward.

http://www.indystar.com/images/pics2/image-072640-1378.jpg
Ron Artest has taken the changes in stride: "People get fired, people get traded. Things like that are going to happen."

Indianapolis Star
mark.montieth@indystar.com
September 9, 2003


Ron Artest's days with the Indiana Pacers are fading like the final whispers of summer now that Larry Bird and Rick Carlisle are running the show.

That, at least, is the line of logic that appears to run through a significant segment of the Pacers' fan base, which can't picture the team's controversial forward coexisting with the new guard.

That line runs into a quick dead-end, however, when it reaches Bird, the team president of basketball operations, and Carlisle, the coach.

They profess to love Artest. They respect his game, like his personality and are confident added maturity will address the issues that caused him to be suspended for 12 games last season.

In fact, their comments sound strikingly similar to those of former coach Isiah Thomas and team CEO Donnie Walsh.

Bird has talked with Artest several times and watched him work out at Conseco Fieldhouse. Carlisle put Artest through workouts a few times before he was officially presented as the Pacers' new coach last week.

They came away with a mutual impression.

"Ronnie is an incredibly hard worker," Bird said. "I told him I wish I had him working out in the summer with me when I played. It would have been fun.

"I know he's gone through tough times here and there but he's got a ton of ability. And when you sit down and talk to him you just love the kid; it's incredible."

Artest has adapted quickly to the franchise's new regime. Thomas left a message on his cell phone last weekend, but Artest -- busy following the recent birth of his daughter -- had not yet returned the call. Artest says that doesn't mean he's happy Thomas was fired, just an indication he accepts the reality of professional sports.

"I'm just taking it day by day," Artest said. "People get fired, people get traded. Things like that are going to happen. Nobody's job is safe."

Artest did call Bird shortly after he rejoined the organization July 11, and asked him: "You were slow, but you always got around people when you drove to the basket. How did you do that?"

Bird was amused, and had the answer. He took what the defense gave him. In fact, Bird has told Artest he admires Artest's defensive effort but sometimes plays his defender too tightly away from the basket. That causes Artest to get beat off the dribble, which happens to be how Bird -- slow as he was -- got by quicker defenders.

Carlisle describes Artest as "a nice guy" and "a man's man" and claims to be "very optimistic about this kid." He cited Artest's age as a factor in the issues that dogged him last season.

"This guy is only 23 years old," Carlisle said. "Part of him getting by whatever issues are there is his maturing process."

Artest said he isn't concerned about reports Carlisle had personality differences with his players in Detroit that might have led to his firing despite 50 wins each of his two seasons as coach. In fact, he takes Carlisle's serious nature as a positive sign.

"If he's like that he's kind of like me," Artest said. "I don't have a great relationship with my teammates or coaches. Everything goes by so fast, you don't have enough time to give to your family and your team.

"As long as you respect who you're working with and you respect the job they do, that's all that matters. I'm not in it for the relationships. I'm in it to win."

Bird said he has seen Artest make improvements with his shooting and ball-handling this summer. Fans, however, are probably more interested to see if Artest's demeanor improves.

Artest was suspended for seven games by the NBA, another by Thomas and missed four games after exceeding the league limit for flagrant fouls. He finished the season with eight flagrant points, twice as many as any other player in the league.

Artest promised late last season he would never be suspended for another game. He made it through the final 12 regular-season games and all six playoff games without punishment, and plans to continue the streak.

Bird hasn't focused much on the subject in his conversations with Artest, other than to make a basic plea for participation.

"I told him, 'Our fans pay too much money to come in here and watch great players play, and you're a great player,' " Bird said. "I'm not going to harp on it, but we can't have that."

Artest agrees. He realizes the impact of his absences, and has memorized the numbers. Of the 13 games he missed -- including one because of an upset stomach -- the Pacers lost eight.

He figures if he had played in those games they could have won eight. That would have given them 51 wins, the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and perhaps avoided a first-round playoff elimination and saved Thomas' job.

"Nobody has to tell me what happened," Artest said. "I know what happened. I know if we go 8-5 (in the games he missed) the whole season could have changed. That's not a good feeling.

"If we're going to win games, I have to be on the court. You can't be suspended (for 12 games). You can't do that two years in a row. One year is more than enough."

one long blue sock
09-09-2003, 10:49 PM
If they would have said that they wanted to trade Artest two months ago, I would have made a little trade. I figured that he was a real good fit, with his hard personality, and his defense intensity, and his versatility.

NOW that I look at it I see that Jamison is THE PERFECT fit.

MavKikiNYC
09-10-2003, 08:49 AM
1) Is Bird trying to drive up Artest's trade value?

2)
"I don't have a great relationship with my teammates or coaches."

By his own admission, he's a team chemistry cancer. I hope he never sees a minute in a Mavericks uniform.

3) It would also be interesting to see what the effect of his flagrant fouls was on games where he wasn't suspended or ejected. I think there were a couple of very close losses where his flagrants may have made the difference. Any Pacers followers have any stats on this?

Jeremiah
09-11-2003, 07:17 AM
Originally posted by: MavKikiNYC
1) Is Bird trying to drive up Artest's trade value?

2)
"I don't have a great relationship with my teammates or coaches."

By his own admission, he's a team chemistry cancer. I hope he never sees a minute in a Mavericks uniform.

3) It would also be interesting to see what the effect of his flagrant fouls was on games where he wasn't suspended or ejected. I think there were a couple of very close losses where his flagrants may have made the difference. Any Pacers followers have any stats on this?

He said he didn't have a great relationship with his coaches or teammates. That's a far stretch from saying that he said he was a team cancer.