Hi, Fans, I'm Ron Artest, and I Can't Wait to Win

by Jeff Tzucker
by Conrad Brunner

Feb. 21, 2002

Editor's Note: With the trade of Jalen Rose to the Chicago Bulls, a vacancy was created in the middle of the Pacers.com lineup. Newcomer Ron Artest, already established as one of the league's most aggressive - and candid - players, has graciously agreed to pick up the mantle and fill our Player's Diary for the rest of this season.

By Ron Artest

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 21, 2002 - Hi, Pacers fans, my name is Ron Artest. I'm from the housing projects of Queens, New York. I play tough defense and every night I feel I'm the best. On the court, I take out my anxieties and play with a sort of determination. I feel like I can't be stopped, and if you've got the ball, I feel like I'm going to take it from you. Every single night, I'm ready to play.

First off, it means a lot to be here and to finally come to a team that can win. In the NBA, I've never had more than 20 wins. To come to a team that's winning a little bit - even though we're out of the playoffs right now, we've got a chance - means a lot to me.

You can expect me to play hard. I play both ends of the court, and I try to be consistent every night. My main thing is to do what it takes to win; every game, every possession, that's what I try to do.

While I was in Chicago, we beat the Pacers maybe once or twice, and I could tell they're well-coached. They've got Reggie Miller and I can learn a lot from him. The organization is run right. Everybody I talk to about being in Indiana now, they say things like, 'You're going to have fun out there. The people are really nice' It's going to be so much more relaxed to just be out here and focus on basketball.

I wasn't totally surprised to be traded, because my name had come up in a lot of rumors this season. For a while, I thought Michael Jordan was going to make a push to bring me to the Wizards. I kept hearing about it and people were telling me about it, so I thought I was going to be there this year. But I'm here in Indy and I plan on staying here and winning in the same place Reggie Miller plays.

And, in case you're wondering, yes, I was the guy who broke two of Michael's ribs while scrimmaging against him last summer. We were just playing, hustling, playing hard down low on the post. I was on defense and I accidentally caught him with an elbow. It was no big deal.

I was also the guy who had a little exchange with the fans behind the Bulls' bench during one game. Normally, I can play through anything. But that night, we were losing, and we had lost a lot of games, and I was upset. But now that I'm here, I know it's good to have those fans behind you. If they can get under a player's skin, then that's a plus for us.

Being traded is part of the business in the NBA, but that doesn't make it easy. At least I was lucky in that I didn't own a house in Chicago. I even rented my furniture. So when I found out I was coming to Indiana, then I found out I had to be here the next day, I just packed two bags and came on down. There are a few things I've got to move from Chicago but I can do that later. I'll stay in a hotel and bring my wife and kids with me. When I found out I got traded, she was in the bed but I called and told her and she was ready to go.

You also have to learn new systems offensively and defensively while getting to know a new set of teammates and coaches. Having guys like Brad Miller, Ron Mercer and Kevin Ollie around will help but I don't think it's going to be hard fitting in here. You've just got to play your game, listen, and do what it takes to win. Hopefully, you can gain everybody's respect.

Even though it's hard to hear you've been traded, for me it's better to feel wanted and it's better to be somewhere you want to be. Indy wanted me and I wanted to be here. They want to win and I want to win, so it's sort of perfect. Winning means everything to me right now.

I can hardly wait to get started.