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Ron Artest regrets "bailing out" on Pacers; now in place of redemption

May 31, 2010, 10:45 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Artest_layup.jpgRon Artest is a complex person. We tend to try to fit players into simple two-dimensional pictures, but some players burst outside those lines. Ron Artest is one of those. He is also a person and player who has matured, but we often dismiss that maturation process in players.

Now Artest, dismissed by so many, is now on the doorstep of an NBA Finals. A finals the Lakers would not be preparing for now without Artest’s Game 5 heroics and his Game 6 second quarter. It’s a bit of redemption.

And he admitted to CBS’s Ken Berger he might not be here without the hard lessons he learned as a Pacer. But he has regrets from that time.

“The biggest regret of my life, really, is bailing out on that Pacer team,” Artest said. “I mean, outside not going to church every single Sunday, bailing out on that Pacer team is my biggest regret. Every time I see Jermaine [O'Neal], every time I see Steve [Jackson] and Jamaal [Tinsley] … I get a little bit of a feeling when I see [Larry] Bird, because he was such a great player and I respect him so much. So I get that feeling when I see Bird. I feel like a coward. I feel like I don’t even belong in their presence, really.”

“When I saw Jermaine [this season], I felt like I didn’t even belong in the same room as him,” Artest said. “I felt like a coward. I don’t like feeling like a coward, and I feel like a coward. That’s the biggest regret of my life. Steve Jackson, Jermaine, Jamaal, even Jeff [Foster] — a blue-collar guy like him, put his life on the line for us on the court, and I totally disrespected him. And of course Reggie. I was in a position to win a championship, Reggie was in position, and I bailed out on Reggie. I feel like a coward. A big-time coward. It’s hard for me to even speak to them, hard for me to see them.”

“I learned a lot from those days, and regret a lot,” Artest said Sunday, the Lakers’ last day off before the Finals. “It molded me to be a better teammate.”

The Lakers will need that teammate. One big difference from the 2008 version of this Finals matchup is that the Lakers have Artest to put on Paul Pierce, who did whatever he wanted in that first meeting. Artest may be able to bring to his teammates in Los Angeles what he was not ready to help bring to Indiana. The Lakers are counting on him.

And they couldn’t care less how well he fits within the lines drawn for him by fans and the media. Only that he keeps being Ron.

  1. Jimsjam33 - May 31, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    Ron Artest is a nickel short of a dollar . He is a powder keg of TNT waiting for the fuse to be lit. This is the type of guy who’ll shoot you and then ask , ” What happened . ”
    Take his reasoning for those ill advised shots in the 6th game against Phoenix . ” I was open and I’m shooting 60% from the 3 point line . We were up by three and I wanted to be up by 6 .” Forget the fact that 22 seconds remained on the 24 second clock and 52 seconds remained in the game. This guy is no Einstein .
    On the other hand he has a child like likeability and I hear he treats the kids pretty good . I think for Ron Artest just keep it simple and Disney like and everything will be okay !
    Redemption ? Forget it ! Ron Artest doesn’t know the definition and he certainly can’t understand the meaning .

  2. Da Real - May 31, 2010 at 3:56 PM

    When Ron is interviewed, he doesn’t make sense. It may be that he doesn’t understand deeper than basic strategy. When interviewed – He had no clue why he shouldn’t have shot that ball.
    My guess – He was thinking he was open and had a clean look. In basketball that usually means take the shot. So he missed, big deal, that happens. He could have made it just as easily – Complete basic black and white.
    I think that Ron has yet to prove his worth to the Lakers. I believe the Lakers got him specifically to play against the Celtics. If the Lakers win the title, it was worth it. If not, we want Ariza back.

  3. michael - May 31, 2010 at 7:01 PM

    Ron Artest is really great for saying these things in public. He doesn’t hold back and that got him in trouble in the past but it’s nice to hear a millionaire athlete with no ego. Maybe that pacer team was too successful too soon. One year they were rebuilding and the next they had Jermaine and Artest and won 60 games and obviously Ron got a little full of himself understandably. The fact that he can candidly discuss his shortcomings is a credit to his character.

  4. iLAKERS - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:17 AM

    Ron Artest will keep the trophy in LA! He was brought to LA in part because of his defense ability. Don’t forget that he can also lead any team in scoring. I hope he continues to shoot everytime he is given the open shot because that’s what you are suppose to do when you are open… shoot! Wheelchair Pierce will have a problem being hounded by Artest! Lakers in six!

  5. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:18 AM

    For a tough enforcer and a member of the Detroit Brawl, it takes courage and humility to air out those sentiments in public. To say that one feels like a coward knowing where he is coming from, yeah, you got to respect and appreciate that.

  6. iLAKERS - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:19 AM

    Ron Artest will keep the trophy in LA! He was brought to LA in part because of his defense ability. Don’t forget that he can also lead any team in scoring. I hope he continues to shoot everytime he is given the open shot because that’s what you are suppose to do when you are open… shoot! Wheelchair Pierce will have a problem being hounded by Artest! Lakers in six!

  7. Foul Dwimmerlaik - Jun 1, 2010 at 12:20 AM

    For a tough enforcer and a member of the Detroit Brawl, it takes courage and humility to air out those sentiments in public. To say that one feels like a coward knowing where he is coming from, yeah, you got to respect and appreciate that.

  8. Njcd - Jun 1, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Ron Artest reuined the Indiana Pacers,that year they were suppose to be legit title contenders.They had Jermaine O’neal in his prime playing like an MVP,Reggie Miller one of if not the greatest clutch,slash shooters ever to play the game of basketball.Jamaal Tinsley was playing his best even though it wasn’t for long and Stephen Jackson already had a ring and experience.Beeing a Pacer fan to this day I will never forgive Artest,it wasn’t even his team,it was Jermaine’s and Reggies team,and the fact that he dissrespected the organization by not only going into the stands but also demanding a trade makes me believe he’s a dirt bag,and as a fan that is unbelievable,I hope Paul Pierce lights up Artest in the Finals.

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