Artesting my patience

Over the past two days I have heard, on three separate ESPN radio programs, that there is some sort of possible consideration of bringing Ron Artest, who somewhere along the line became the most hated man in all of sports, back for the playoffs.

It pains me to say this, as a Pacers fan, but don’t do it. Do not take this step.

David Stern is the most powerful commissioner in sports today, and has built the NBA from a fourth tier sport to what it is at the present time, an exciting, commercially driven, world wide sport. Stern has made himself the judge and the jury in almost every suspension case in the past ten years, and if it weren’t for the shortening of Jermaine O’Neals excessive sentence, he would have been unchallenged in all of them.

I want Artest to come back. I want the Pacers to be somewhat competitive this year, and I don’t want Reggie Miller’s last season to end up as a ping pong ball on Lottery day. I believe that with Artest, the Pacers can beat anyone in this league. Hell, they had been – they had the best record in the league when the Malice at Auburn Hills happened.

But, undoing this suspension, even if only for the playoffs, will undo everything that Stern has done to help the NBA get out from under the black cloud of that night. I love my team, but I also am smart enough to understand when the players have done wrong. And while I feel that Stephen Jackson did more harm that night than Artest, who was punished based on his history more than what happened in the stands, I know that Artest has no business on the floor until his suspension is served.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ll be happy if he comes back early. But I know that no good will come from this, and the NBA’s image needs as much help as it can get at this point in time.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 4th, 2005