Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Good-Time Pacers

Bob Kravitz wrote a column this week about how the Pacers and Colts shouldn't be perceived as "Sinners" vs. "Saints." This, of course, followed the OWI/DUI/drunken driving charges against Dominic Rhodes, who spoiled the perception that the Colts are well-mannered. Of course, if you read my post yesterday, you know that I don't think the Colts are all that wholesome. They're good guys, not great ones, and they make mistakes like anyone else.

Now comes word that Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels have been indicted for that little fight/incident at Tremors/Eight-Second Saloon. The allegations are nothing new, but a grand jury found enough evidence to pursue a case. Apparently, the TrailPacers/JailPacers still know how to have a good time, even with Stephen Jackson's too-late banishment to Golden State (we still miss Al Harrington). Do I have a point here? Well, not really. I would like to know why the Pacers insist on getting into trouble during the season. I mean, both Jack's Club Rio shooting and the Tinsley/Daniels fight happened at a time when the team should be concentrating on basketball. Of course, I know fans like me really get into the season, and actually care about what happens on the court. Sometimes, we don't realize that for these guys, basketball's just a job (that pays really well). Pro athletes may not actually care as much as fans about winning. If they did, stuff like shootings and fights simply wouldn't happen with the frequency they currently do.

I mean, when you're getting ready to start the season, why go out at night to a strip club? Why (allegedly) get into a fight with a handicapped guy at Club Rio? Of course, if the surveillance video is right, Stephen Jackson actually fired in self-defense. That's the same self-preservation instinct that kicked in when he jumped into the stands against Detroit a few years ago. I was devastated when I heard evidence showed Jackson fired in self defense. But legally, no matter your opinion, that's the truth. So, we figured everything would be okay after the Pacers traded Jackson. What I didn't realize was that Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels, both involved in the Club Rio shooting, were such miscreants. They deserve to be just as scorned and derided as Jack. Anyone who fails to see that these guys are bad seeds, and that the Pacers are defending them despite a lot of public anger and apathy toward the team, is deluded. I mean, the Pacers front office just can't seem to figure out why no one cares about the team. Why is attendance down? Hmmmm...maybe it has something to do with on- and off-the-court thuggery. I think the fans were willing to cut the team a little slack after the Artest fight. I, like many, thought Ben Wallace was responsible for much of the problem, and got off easy. I thought maybe Artest could redeem himself. But before you know it, he's promoting an R&B group and his own rap album. Then he's getting a feel-good article in the Star about how he's changed. Then, he's changing his number again. Then he's asking for a trade. So long, Mixmaster Ron.

Since then, the Pacers have been making some terrible moves. First and foremost, getting rid of Anthony Johnson was a mistake. As much as I love Al Harrington, bringing him back was a temporary media coup and nothing more. The core of the team, Jermaine O'Neal, needed to go, but his contract made him impossible to trade; same way with Jamaal Tinsley. I once joked that the Pacers should trade Jackson, Tinsley, and J.O. to the Knicks in exchange for a billion dollars. It's a shame Isiah Thomas didn't hear about my offer. The culture, as we've heard so often, must change in Indianapolis. That means it's time to get rid of whiny J.O. and get some people with some grit (you know, guys the team traded away like Anthony Johnson). But Donnie Walsh and Larry Bird show a stubborn refusal to admit they're wrong. Until they reverse course, until this team reverses course, the Pacers will be stuck in a perpetual state of mediocrity.

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