Pacers Make Statement With Jackson Action

by Conrad Brunner

Dec. 11, 2006

Here's the official one-sentence statement, issued earlier today by the club's Public Information Department:

"The Indiana Pacers announced Monday that guard Stephen Jackson has been suspended for Monday night’s game at Chicago for conduct detrimental to the team during Saturday night’s game at Cleveland."

Here's the unwritten statement made by that statement:

The Pacers have run out of patience for behavioral misdeeds.

When Jackson opted not to go quietly when Rick Carlisle removed him from Saturday night's blowout loss in Cleveland, the coach took immediate action, banishing him to the locker room for the rest of the game. And the franchise stepped forward with its action today.

"The Pacers have had a good value system in which respect for fans, referees, coaches, players and front office has always existed," said franchise CEO & President Donnie Walsh. "The last couple of years, there has been a breakdown of that in some instances. We're making it clear we won't tolerate anymore breakdowns in that value system."

No more need be said.


You have to be a little skeptical about allowing sheer e-mail volume to determine the importance of a subject. Every time a major player on another team asks to be traded, the e-mailbox fills up. Even when it was Chris Webber. OK, then it was only one, but even that was pretty surprising.

So the Allen Iverson saga has attracted plenty of interest around here. It isn't often a true franchise player hits the market, so it's only natural for fans to think wistfully about the possibility of adding a talent of that impact to the roster.

But where's the reality? Boston, Minnesota, Sacramento and Charlotte are generally believed to be the front-runners in the A.I. derby. Most media reports have mentioned the Pacers only on the fringes, like a player-to-be-named-later.

In a way, that's what they are. Franchise CEO and President Donnie Walsh said he hasn't been contacted by 76ers General Manager Billy King about Iverson.

And if the former Pacers assistant did call?

"We'd listen," Walsh said. "He's a great player, period."

It appears the 76ers are looking for a combination of young players and draft picks and aren't particularly interested in a superstar-for-superstar kind of transaction. It would be a difficult package for any team to assemble, considering Iverson's reported $18 million salary, and so it would be for the Pacers.

But he is a legitimately great player, a true warrior on the floor, a talent capable of winning games by himself whose main fault is trying to do so too often. As always, however, you must consider the price. And when pondering that particular part of the equation, remember this: Philly isn't about to inherit some other team's problems to solve its own.


Until Saturday night, this one was gift-wrapped and waiting for none other than Jackson, who was playing his best offensive basketball of the season until lapsing back into his hold temperamental ways. There was, however, one other obvious and deserving candidate. Jeff Foster has taken the team's rebounding issues personally, averaging 11.0 in four games last week and racking up 41 in the last three games (a 13.7 average) while tying his career high of 18 for the sixth time.


Beating the best team in the conference by double figures is something worth noting, don't you think? The Pacers avoided the trap of the "first-game-back" with a solid 94-80 defeat of Orlando Wednesday night behind 26 points apiece from Jackson and Al Harrington and Foster's aforementioned 18-rebound effort. The Pacers played energetically and aggressively and snapped a three-game losing streak by putting the defensive clamps on the high-scoring Magic, holding the visitors to 32 points in the second and third quarters while taking control of the game.


What is it about the road that has such a dramatic effect on the defense? Less traction on other arena floors? Allergies to down pillows in luxury hotels? Whatever the cause, it must be found and eliminated. The Pacers have allowed opponents averages of 89.9 points and .433 shooting in eight home games, the main reason they're 6-2 at Conseco Fieldhouse. On the road, however, they've yielded averages of 102.8 points and .470 shooting, which explains the 5-9 record and four-game losing streak. It's time for the team to start defending the road court.


Every once in a while, the ever-so-subtle Carlisle lets slip a gem of wit. Asked about his team's penchant for turnovers, the coach offered up this memorable explanation: "There’s an element of carelessness. There’s an element of good intention with bad results. And sometimes we’re trying to throw the ball through a defender's nose and have it come out his rear-end and go to our teammate. Those are things we have to avoid."