Monday, December 19, 2005

Portrait Of The Artest

It just gets crazier, doesn't it?

First Ron Artest goes to the media to demand a trade, now he goes back to the media to say "Wait, I didn't mean it!" Oh well. Too late now. Jermaine O'Neal has already stated that his business relationship with Artest is over, and unless the Pacers want to trade their All-Star center/forward (who, I may add, piles up community accolades as well as triple-doubles) instead, their path is chosen. Artest made his bed—now all he has to do is lie down.

If this was simply a matter of talent, it would be a more difficult decision. Jermaine's a great guy, but Artest is probably the better player. He can score from inside and out, and can lock down everyone from point guards to power forwards. It's the fact that he's insane—and I'm starting to believe that more as an actual diagnosis rather than just a throwaway descriptive—that will make him an ex-Pacer as soon as Donnie Walsh gets an offer he can live with.

Magid Johnson said on TNT that Artest needs to be careful, that this will be his last chance if he doesn't watch himself. I don't buy that. Artest is too young and too talented to go the route of guys like J.R. Rider and Glenn Robinson. But I do think he'll be out of the League by 30 if he doesn't get help for his readily apparent problems. Maybe there's concern that what makes him so bad off the court is what makes him so good on it—that if he seeks help, he might lose the ferocity and focus that makes him the best defender in the NBA. Maybe that's even what people are telling him. You know what? At this point, it doesn't matter. The bad is already outweighing the good.

I guess the worst part of all of this is that his 70-plus game suspension last year didn't change anything. Even after that, he has managed to exhibit the worst kind of judgement, and he may have again torpedoed a promising Pacers season before the New Year. Wherever Ron winds up, let's hope he learns something this time.


Ben said...

I read something awhile ago - I think it was Pat Williams, one of the front office guys (and former GM) of the Orlando Magic, quoting someone (although I'm not 100% sure) - which said that in a business there are four kinds of employees: those that fit your ideals and perform - these you always keep; those that don't fit your ideals and don't perform - these you always fire. And then there are the two middle kinds: those that fit your ideals but don't perform, and those that perform but don't fit your ideals. Of these, the last one is the hardest to decide what to do with (although the third is difficult too).

The player that performs but does not fit your ideals (a la Terrell Owens, the aformentioned Artest, etc.) is always alluring because of how good he can be, but ultimately almost every experiment has seemed to backfire. Every team that takes a risk on someone like that always seems to lose. Whereas you can look at teams like San Antonio, Detroit (with the exception of Sheed), or New England in the NFL, and you see that most of the time a great system, with players that fit the ideals but may not be deemed the greatest of talents can and will be successful.

Interestingly there are cases like Sheed and perhaps AI where a player was reputed to be a head case, but seemed to mature. I think, however, these are quite rare.

Mpinga said...

Ah...Ron-Ron,pretty special I tell you.I'm gonna take a bit of a detour and forget about Mr Artest for a sec.I'm pretty much interested in the apparent and slightly unnoticed Wizards topedo.Dare I say that although no one says it,the Wizards squad is up there with the best of them when it comes to inconsistency.I mean Gil Arenas should not be playing PG,Chucky Atkins is a 3rd stringer at best,AD seems to be getting old fast,Antawn's body type is too awkward for a ball player,let alone a pro one(Okay,I admit it's not as funny as I have envisioned it) and the whole frontline is non existent.Does any of the pundits still believe there's some playoff juice left in the Wiz

Russ said...

Pretty wild—the Wizards AND the Bulls are doing worse than I thought they would. We'll see if Caron Butler's starting adds anything to the Wiz, and if Tyson Chandler learns how to shoot.

Ben, I never heard that Pat Williams theory, but it's a pretty sound one. The Sixers catered to AI's every whim and built a team around him, which gave him little reason to be a malcontent (although he definitely tried sometimes). And Rasheed may be a lunatic when the whistle blows, but the rest of the time he manages to be a pretty solid team player.

I think the Pacers are right to dump Artest, regardless of his talent. I believe his comments were a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts—he didn't HAVE to be traded before he said what he did, but after that the Pacers no longer had a choice. It'll be interesting to see what he does at his next address.

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