Friday, November 12, 2004

Rappin' on Ronnie

November 12, 2004
By Paul Benedict

Let me begin by stating that I'm not at all surprised by the craziness still emitting from Ron Artest. In case you haven't heard, Artest asked Pacers coach Rick Carlisle for some time off so he could recover from the rigors of promoting his rap album. (Actually today Ron Ron elaborated on the details of the album: he's exec-producing it, and it's an R&B album from Allure). Carlisle responded by "compromising the integrity of the team" and benching Artest for two games. Before I go any further, let's quickly recap Ron Ron's history of peculiarity...

  • College coach Fran Fraschilla on Artest, "Ron can be kind of scary at times."
  • Once ripped a phone out of press row during Pacers game.
  • Threw a tantrum after a Pacers loss, screaming at his teammats, "Ain't nobody eating! Nobody deserves to eat!"
  • Hurled a TV monitor to the floor and smashed a camera after a Pacers loss at MSG.
  • Applied for a job at Circuit City while a member of the Bulls, using then-GM Jerry Krause as a reference.
  • Claimed if he was commissioner, he would eject players for cursing "because kids are watching", but allow the ball to be punted in the stands "because it's fun".
  • Father Ron, Sr. , "I always thought Ron's temper would be his downfall in life."
  • Threatened girlfriend 2 years ago, and forced to undergo anger management.
  • Broke Michael Jordan's ribs after setting a hard screen in a pickup game during the summer before MJ's last comeback.
  • Missed team flight to Detroit for game 6 of last year's playoffs.
  • Agent Mark Bartelstein cut ties with Artest this summer after Ron refused to listen to anything suggested by his agent.
  • Suspended for 10 games and fined for a sum of $250,000 in 2002-2003.

Artest clearly has some personal issues, and as a human being, we have to respect that. What I don't like, is the lack of respect and sacrifice Artest has sgiven the Pacers management and his teammates. Remember that situation we had a little while ago in the NFL, you know...that one about the pot-smoking all-pro running back? Oh, Ricky Williams! (Seems like the RW jokes are about to fly under the radar with Artest inheritting the spotlight) Williams was also seen as an oddball, a guy who's bizarre personality eventually affected his playing career negatively. Williams always did play his heart out and was never questioned about his lack of drive and gamesmanship on the field. Off the field was a different story, and well, that's where the story has ended (for now). Williams shocked the NFL, the media, but more importantly the Dolphins management and his Dolphin teammates by announcing his retirement just weeks before training camp. He left to pursue personal interests. He quit. Ron Artest tried to quit, too. Whether it was being benched for 2 games over this debacle, taking a month (or two) off as he suggested to Carlisle, Larry Bird, and Donnie Walsh, or retiring at the end of the season, which he also discussed, Ron Artest, in so many words, let it be known that his desire, his drive for winning an NBA Championship, is just not at the level of his teammats, and thus he cannot be trusted. Championship teams, no winning teams, hell, just regular teams whether they win or lose, are built on trust. And this goes beyond sports; you can't win the top prize of a scientific research project if one of your team members isn't showing up to every meeting or if they aren't sharing the same desire to put forth as strong an effort as everyone else. It just wouldn't work. And that's where the Indiana Pacers are right now and that's what is really wrong about this Ron Artest situation. Ron Artest isn't willing to sacrifice some of his personal desires (many of which he shares with his teammates) for the sake of the team, and so now they are left with the possibility of relying on someone they can't trust in order to win. And in that situation, uncertainty is the only winner.

"I tell you one lesson I learned
If you want to reach something in life
you ain't gonna get it unless
you give a little bit of sacrifice."


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