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The Pacers Years: Ron Artest

Click here to see The Pacers Years: Jermaine O’Neal

Hello all and welcome to the second part in my tale of great Pacers players. Today, I discuss Ron Artest’s career with Indy.

2001

It all began during the 2001-02 NBA season. Artest was currently with the Chicago Bulls, making a name for himself.

It was on Feburary 19, 2002, when Ron Artest was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Jalen Rose, Travis Best, and Norm Richardson. Brad Miller, Ron Mercer, and Kevin Ollie were the others along with Artest to be traded to the Pacers in the seven-player trade.

From Chicago Bulls official website:

“We are excited to acquire two players the caliber of Jalen Rose and Travis Best,” said Bulls Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Jerry Krause.

“We feel Jalen is an outstanding all-around player who can play three positions offensively and defensively. He’s a very good passer, extremely unselfish, a fine scorer and in the prime of his career at age 29. His leadership qualities and versatility are an added plus.

“Travis is a proven scorer and defender and, at 29, also in his prime. We hated to trade Artest, Miller, Mercer and Ollie, but to get quality you have to give quality. One of the reasons we felt we could part with Artest and Mercer is the continuing outstanding play of rookie Trenton Hassell at both ends of the court. We think that in Eddy Curry and Dalibor Bagaric we have two big, young centers who will be valuable for many years to come.”

Artest looked to be a great contributor and have a key role when he arrives in Indy. During the last 28 games of the season in which Artest played with the Pacers, he had averages of about eleven points, five rebounds, and about two assists per game as the Pacers went 42-40 that year, eventually losing in the first round to the New Jersey Nets.

Artest looked to accomplish his goal next year of winning a NBA ring.

2002

Artest was looking to improve this year after last year’s performance with the Pacers. Artest averaged about 16 points, about five rebounds, about two assists, and about one block per game with Indy during the 2002-03 season.

During that year, the Pacers went 48-34 and made the playoffs, being in second place in the Central Division. But the Pacers ended up as a first-round exit once again, losing to the Boston Celtics by 4-2 in the series. Although the Pacers failed that year, there is still some hope.

And Artest was there to prove it.

2003

Artest had a great year in the 2003-04 season. He averaged about 18 points, about five rebounds, about four assists, and about one block per game. With these impressive stats, Artest won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, proving that he is was building a big name for himself on the Pacers and the whole league.

Ron Artest edged out Ben Wallace when he was with the Detroit Pistons that year by about 100 votes. Here were the votes tallied for the award:

2003-04 NBA DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR RESULTS

Player, Team 1st 2nd 3rd Pts
Ron Artest, Indiana 80 20 16 476
Ben Wallace, Detroit 26 61 12 325
Theo Ratliff, Portland 8 10 20 90
Bruce Bowen, San Antonio 4 10 26 76
Andrei Kirilenko, Utah 2 12 21 67
Kevin Garnett, Minnesota 0 7 15 36
Tim Duncan, San Antonio 0 1 5 8
Clifford Robinson, Golden State 1 0 0 5
Kenyon Martin, New Jersey 0 0 2 2
James Posey, Memphis 0 0 1 1
Kobe Bryant, L.A. Lakers 0 0 1 1
Shaquille O’Neal, L.A. Lakers 0 0 1 1
Earl Watson, Memphis 0 0 1 1

Not only was Artest commanding that year, so was his team. The Pacers went 61-21 that year, being number one in the Central Division and the entire league. The Pacers were being very aggressive this year and were looking to bring that same momentum, if not more, in the playoffs.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. Although they did sweep Boston in the first round, then beat the Heat 4-2 in the second round, the Conference Finals was depressing. They lost to the Detroit Pistons 4-2 in the series, but they fought hard. It was a great year, as Artest and his fellow teammate, Reggie Miller, will enter their last year with the Pacers franchise.

2004

During Ron’s last year in the 2004-05 NBA season, Artest was  averaging about 25 points, about seven rebounds, about three assists, and about one block per game with the team. But he only played seven games. Why so little? During a game against the Detroit Pistons, a brawl happened which was known as “Malace at the Palace.”

Here was a conversation Artest had ESPN’s Jim Gray:

Jim Gray: What happened that led up to this [brawl]?

Ron Artest: I thought it was an OK foul. The refs told me it wasn’t a technical and it wasn’t a flagrant. I think [Ben] Wallace’s reaction was too much. I don’t mind him pushing me. But he also caught me in my nose. I’m not sure what will happen regarding that … I was lying on the table when Wallace threw a towel at me. I got up and then was lying down again when I got hit with a liquid, ice and glass container on my chest and on my face. After that it was self defense.

JG: Did anyone from security or police talk to you?

RA: They came in to ask me if I needed [medical] help. I just thanked them to help me get out of the building. … I can’t say anything else on the advice of [Pacers CEO/president Donnie Walsh].

It was truly just a crazy brawl. It was one of the craziest things the world of the NBA fans witnessed.

Said Bucknut248 in a comment of the video above:

The fight that killed the pacers franchise…. from contender to pretender in just like that.

I agree. It was truly just crazy but it was also the Pistons fault as well during the game. Both teams never took control of their actions and emotions. What they did was stupid. And that was what caused Artest to be suspended for the whole year, and leave the Pacers the next year.

2005

Actually, Ron Artest stayed with the Pacers during the 2005-06 season, but not fully. Artest only played 16 games for the team. President Larry Bird said Artest must go.

Artest was off playing for the Sacramento Kings, then for the Houston Rockets in the 2008-09 season. Artest is currently on the Los Angeles Lakers as he appears that he will be starting at small forward and being a replacement for Trevor Ariza.

Although the brawl had ruined his Pacers career.

Let’s not forgot what he has done for them, for all these years.

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