NEW YORK — Before commencing with today’s communique excuse me while I laugh in the faces of pretenders whose “sources” claim Isiah Thomas and Ron Artest had a solid relationship in Indiana . . . heckle the hoodwinked who fail to grasp the Knicks’ president’s phone call to Pacer CEO Donnie Walsh regarding his screwy swingman was nothing more than a pantomime performance to sidetrack a full-court press and appease fans . . . and mock the oblivious advocating the acquisition of the splattered meteor, period, forget about at any cost.
I can’t decide which is more offensive to my senses: Artest’s recent stream of unconsciousness or the fountains of misinformation spewing from squawking heads and media mannequins whose line of reasoning on all of the above is decorated in early emptiness.
Yeah, right, let’s connect Larry Brown’s and Ron Artest’s dots.
Who among the even moderately sound of mind honestly believes that “Love Connection” would have any chance of lasting?
May I remind the promoters of that relationship this is the same Larry Brown who branded David Robinson a “coach killer” in his Spurs’ infancy; the same Larry Brown who accused Hall of Famer Dan Issel of having no heart; traded Bobby Jones for George McInnis; and wanted to trade Reggie Miller when success curdled in Indiana.
And those were his most coachable players.
If Next Town Brown had problems with the exceptional, what makes any lucid philosopher conceptualize a misfit like Artest will be an exception?
If Brown couldn’t endure the flaws of the easiest guys to control, imagine how fast Artest’s idiosyncrasies would have him scurrying like a toad to his next dream job.
On second thought, Artest is so out there he could turn Brown sane.
Fact is, we’ve never been distantly in danger of stirring that discovery process, much less studied it to see whether it’s humanely possible. Their marriage was never anything but a dead issue, though they do share at least one common denominator: Artest regularly takes leave of his senses, whereas Brown regularly takes leave.
Still, as repeatedly as Isiah Thomas starts afresh or breaks bread with those who’ve tormented, tortured or turned on him, the notion of reuniting with Artest is so unappealing he wouldn’t give up Frederic Weis straight up.
I make this statement emphatically knowing what I know about their year-and-a-half Pacers association. Thomas found Artest so unmanageable, so disorderly, so inclined to do the opposite of what the situation called for, he seriously considered excluding him (and Ron Mercer) from the playoff roster in 2002-03.
A late season superior recital at the Garden forced him to change his mind, but not his opinion or a scheme to get rid of him.
Thomas and Jermaine O’Neal were very tight. As far as I know, they still are. Thomas always told his franchise player everything he wanted to hear and saved the negative evaluations for the ears of others. He also manipulated him to do his dirty work.
That summer O’Neal became a free agent. Before he re-signed, I wrote a column that charged him with trying to use his leverage (in conjunction with his distaste for Artest’s irresponsibility, disruptive behavior and aloofness) to pressure management to trade Artest, Mercer and Jamaal Tinsley.
It was clear who put him up to it; Jermaine is too nice a person to pull such a Machiavellian stunt.
Thomas was furious the story got out and denied its accuracy. Meanwhile, I got a frantic call from Thomas. He implored me to call O’Neal and convince him that he wasn’t the source, which is true.
I had no problem with that. I called the number Thomas gave me but O’Neal never called back.
I know I’m naive; but it seems to me anybody who would go to that extreme to deport Artest and two others (Thomas’ mistreatment of Tinsley is a sordid story for another day) from Indiana has no intention of importing him to New York.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely concur with Thomas’ position for all the obvious reasons. A day or so after Artest’s starring role in the Malice at the Palace, I called Thomas to get his take.
“That’s what I’m talking about,” he said. “You could see this coming. It was just a matter of when.”
That’s why half the NBA is petrified to add Artest to their mix despite a relatively inexpensive outlay.
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