What's Up with Artest?

by Conrad Brunner

Friday, Oct. 10, 2003

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 are we to make of these recent remarks by Ron Artest? In the offseason he was quoted (in the New York Post): "If I had a player out of line, I would bench him. That's all you can do, bench him. You don't kiss nobody's rear end, because it stinks."

Yet after his histrionics and subsequent benching in the preseason opener we are treated to (in the Indianapolis Star): "If I'm going to be taken out for stuff like that I'd rather not be in the game. I'd rather be with another team. I apologized to the ref and it was that simple. That's all it was."

Can we get the real Ron Artest to stand up? (From Jamie in Camby, IN)

A. If Ron Artest was testing his boundaries with this incident, he learned quickly that they are much tighter than last season. Coach Rick Carlisle made exactly the right move, replacing Artest for a few minutes, then downplaying the event in his postgame remarks. Carlisle let his actions speak for him, and every indication is that will continue to be the case. Neither Carlisle nor Larry Bird want to get involved in a big public debate about any player’s behavior, but neither will they allow inappropriate actions to take place without consequence. Bird is the guy, you may remember, who (in his first year as head coach) left Travis Best and Dale Davis on the tarmac, watching the team plane depart because they were not on board at precisely the appointed departure time.

It was disappointing to see the first-game incident because Artest has admitted more than once that his recurring suspensions last season played a major role in the team’s post-All-Star-Break collapse. He knows full well the negative impact his actions can have on the team. He must now apply that understanding as a deterrent to misbehavior, rather than falling back on it as a postscript.