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Artest still upsets my stomachPosted Wednesday, June 23, 2010, at 3:24 PM
I don't want to sound bitter, especially when I am ever so grateful to be part of the living and upright after my bout with an infection gone bad and subsequent back surgery that has had me homebound for over a month (more on that in a another column later).
But I wanted to throw up when former pro coach Jeff Van Gundy said after game 7 of the NBA Finals, "You have to feel good for Ron Artest?" No I don't, nor would any self-respecting Indiana Pacers' fan feel good for the thug that was trying to promote his second rap album after being part of winning a title June 17. I think the first one sold 87 copies when he was a Pacer and he wanted to take time away from the Blue and Gold to promote it.
It was bad enough that the Los Angeles Lakers repeated as NBA champions last week, but it was like pouring salt in the wound to watch Ron Artest share in the celebration after his contributions in the last two LA wins.
To say the least I am still gashed to the core about what Artest did that fateful night in the Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich. In November 2004. Yeah, you remember The Brawl when Artest went in the stands after being doused with beer by a Pistons fan.
The thing that people forget is that the Pacers had won a league-best 61 games in 2003-04, but lost to Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons then went on to beat the three-time champ Lakers in the finals six years ago.
Also, what people forget is that the Pacers were ahead by double figures on the defending World Champs in their building on that fateful November night and were on the way to something pretty special. They were 8-2 at that point.
The melee that ensued not only decimated the Pacers as Artest, Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson all were suspended for their part of the brawl, which started when Artest fouled Piston center Ben Wallace in the waning seconds.
Somehow coach Rick Carlisle managed to keep the Pacers together with tape and glue that year and they somehow made the playoffs before losing to the Pistons at Conseco Fieldhouse in May 2005, the last time that Reggie Miller suited up for Indy.
Indiana also made the playoffs in 2006, but they have not been part of the postseason since. Four straight years of being also-rans after making the playoffs in 16 of 17 years, five trips to the ECF and one trip to the World Finals in 2000.
But those days seem light years away and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the actions of Ron Ron started the decline.
If that wasn't bad enough, Artest decided that he no longer wanted to play in Indy at the start of the next season.
It wasn't good enough to ruin one season, he had to go for two.
Pacers president Larry Bird said that he was going to clean up the culture of the team, getting rid of Artest, Jackson, Jamal Tinsley and other knuckleheads. Give him an A in that category.
The Pacers seem to have a corps of good young players who are getting better, but more talent is needed to turn around the damage that Artest caused.
I know that Artest had a sick daughter who spent time in Riley Hospital and I wish her the best.
Nobody plays harder than Artest, but many play smarter. I am not a doctor but bi-polar would be my diagnoses.
Somebody told me one time that "Life isn't fair. If your momma told you it was, she was lying to you."
When I think of the success of Ron Artest, who was the difference for LA in games 6 & 7 after stinking for the first five games, I want to vomit
He had the gall to apologize to the Pacers during his interview after game 7.
Too little, too late Ron, don't you think?
B.J. is the sports editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 240-1993.
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