The final straw

I was working on my “What I’ve Been Reading” Best of 2005 list, but I just couldn’t stay quiet about this any longer.

Ron Artest. You want to be traded? Good. Go Away.

I’ll never claim to be an impartial basketball fan – I’ll always sway towards the Indiana Pacers, just like Eric will always sway towards the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kerrie will sway towards the Phoenix Suns. It’s part of being a fan.

So it’s not a surprise that when someone decides to turn their back on my favorite team, I prepare to bid them adieu.

Which is exactly what Ron Artest is doing. I’m not surprised; I’ve been waiting for this for months.


“I still think my past haunts me here,” Artest told the Star. “I think somewhere else I’m starting fresh. I’m coming in with baggage but people already know about it and how I’m going to be. Either they’re going to be for me or they’re not going to trade for me. Here I think my past haunts me.

Please. Artest needs to cut the martyr act. He wants out, but he doesn’t want to look like the bad guy. He wants to be the top dog on a team, and he’ll never make it that high playing alongside Jermaine O’Neal. He’s trying to force his way off the team by acting like the scapegoat, the victim, the tortured soul that only wants his team to be successful.

Ron? You are the best defensive player in the league. You are leading the league in steals. You’re averaging nearly 20 points per game. Many of the basketball media consider you the best two-way player in the league. You’re on a perennial contender, one of the top four teams in the league. Why do you think the Pacers would be better off with you?

Additionally, your team stood by you last year when you went crazy and got yourself kicked out of the league for 72 games. They rallied around your cause and managed to take the Pistons to a sixth game in the second round despite missing the reining Defensive Player of the Year due to suspensions and half of the rest of the team due to injuries. Your actions, in my opinion, single handedly cost the Pacers their shot at the NBA Championship. They cost Reggie Miller his last shot at the title. To think that the team still accepts you into the fold is mind-boggling.

“I think I cause a lot of problems here,” Artest told the Star in a one-on-one interview Saturday; the story first appeared on the newspaper’s Web site. “If the trade rumors, if there is any truth — maybe it won’t be a bad thing. They probably could win more games without me.”

Oh? The trade rumors? You mean, you asked for a trade, and now you’re saying that they’re all rumors? Come on.

The Pacers, truthfully, don’t need Artest. They could trade him nearly anywhere for less than what he’s worth and lose the distraction, the head-case, the instigator, and the time-bomb of their team all at the same time. Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh has already said he’s shopping Artest around. Good. Artest just asked for a trade, and Donnie will oblige.

Do you think Walsh or GM Larry Bird will send Artest to a good team? No. Don’t kid yourself. He’s not going to send a player that good to a team that will contend against the Pacers anytime soon. They’ll trade him to the Hawks and get Al Harrington back. Or to the Raptors for Mike James and picks. Or to the Knicks for Quentin Richardson and Malik Rose.

I say send him where he belongs – the Portland ‘Jail’blazers. Send back Darius Miles, or one of those three point guards that are always injured. Hell, just send a future draft pick – the Pacers will be fine with Greg Oden or OJ Mayo down the line.

Regardless, just send him anywhere. He’s worn out his welcome in Indiana. Maybe he can be someone else’s problem.

That’s the only way he’ll ever stop being a problem to the Pacers.

This was lovingly handwritten on December 13th, 2005