- The Washington Times - Monday, December 19, 2005

Last week he wanted to be traded.

This week he doesn’t.

Welcome to the bipolar world of Ron Artest.

Warning: This is a strange and confusing place, where not even Terrell Owens could make sense of things. When it comes to career suicide, Artest is All-NBA first team.

In this world, free time leads to a mismanaged career.

That’s what happened last week when Artest, sidelined with a wrist injury, demanded a trade because the Indiana Pacers would be better off without him.

The 6-foot-7 forward also said he doesn’t like playing in coach Rick Carlisle’s structured offense and that his penchant for running into the stands and assaulting fans haunts him in Indiana.

But that’s not really important, because Artest will say anything. He is a good talker and a poor thinker, which is often a volatile mix.

At the beginning of last season, Artest told the Pacers he wanted time off to promote his rap album, which everyone quickly forgot once he initiated a players-fans meeting in Detroit that went awry and resulted in a 73-game suspension.

Carlisle and the Pacers braintrust of Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh have stuck with Artest through thin and thinner because he plays every possession at a championship level — offense, defense, 82 games a season. He can score 20 points and hold the other team’s best player to 10.

But Artest doesn’t understand that there are 82 games, 3,936 minutes in a season, and he should pace himself.

This lack of understanding makes him a uniquely talented basketball player. But his lack of understanding concerning public relations and team dynamics is jeopardizing his potential Hall of Fame career.

Bird, who posed with a reformed Artest on the cover of Sports Illustrated in October, has been absent during this latest controversy.

Walsh says he will indulge Artest’s trade request, and there are as many as 20 teams who know Artest just needs a little understanding and a change of scenery.

That’s what the Pacers thought, too, back in 2002.

Artest spent his first 21/2 seasons with the Chicago Bulls before they lost patience and traded him. On his way out the door, Artest saw a picture of himself bolted to the wall. Knowing the Bulls wouldn’t need it any longer, he ripped it off and carried it home.

Artest didn’t do this because he is malevolent. He did it because he is an odd personality.

Either way, the Pacers have had enough and should hide their photos.

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