How will Artest Incident Affect Team?

by Conrad Brunner

November 10, 2004

Wednesday, November 10, 2004
If you'd like to pose a Question of the Day to Conrad Brunner, submit it along with your full name and hometown to Bruno's_mailbag@pacers.com. Brunner’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pacers players, coaches or management.

QUESTION
OF THE DAY

Conrad Brunner
Q. What's the possible impact of Ron Artest's situation? Artest finished last season strong until after the final game. He had a promising offseason and preseason. The Pacers had the unlikely but possible trade with Sacramento for Peja (Stojakovic) over the summer. The national media has hinted that Artest could be contemplating retirement.

Through all of Artest's flaws and situations, the Pacers have still managed to become a stronger and stronger team, and he a better player. Are there some things that he can do that will hurt the integrity of the team and is this latest incident one of them? (From Chris in Anderson, IN)

A. I suspect it will have a bigger impact in the media than the locker room. For better or worse, the Pacers have grown accustomed to these scenarios and have demonstrated a remarkable ability to deal with them without suffering on the court. The Pacers were 7-3 in games Artest missed last season (and were 4-0 without Jermaine O'Neal). They certainly could've used Artest's defense against Latrell Sprewell last night in Minnesota, and his absence could be felt against Corey Maggette and the Clippers tonight.

But it's more important to maintain team discipline, particularly early in the season. Coach Rick Carlisle is handling the situation as privately as possible, taking action without embarrassing Artest in the media. His teammates are taking a similar approach. In other words, it's much bigger news outside the walls of Conseco Fieldhouse than within and its impact likely will end when Artest returns to the lineup, assuming he does so, Friday night in Philadelphia.