The Starting Five’s Michael Tillery conducted a wide-ranging interview with Sacramento’s Ron Artest over the summer, and while Artest’s detailed comments about the infamous brawl in Auburn Hills will attract most of the attention, his remarks about his departure from Indiana are equally revealing (link courtesy Rebuilding Year).
MT: The things that happened in Indiana“especially at the end“would you attribute it more to business dealings? The Pacers and your camp seemed so far apart. Was it really that much animosity? We read you wanted to go back to Indiana. Larry Bird and Donnie Walsh made some statements saying“and I™m paraphrasing“they didn™t know what to do with you.
RA: There was a lot of pressure from the brawl.
I initiated everything“saying that I wanted to be traded. People just didn™t know just how much I didn™t want to go back to Detroit. I just felt that something was going to happen. I felt like somebody was going to do something stupid and I was going to go up in there and smack the crap out of somebody (I laugh, but Ron does not). When I said I wanted to be traded, that™s not what I wanted at all. I didn™t have a chance to think. I wanted to take five and think about what I wanted for my career. My ego got in the way. I developed an ego, which I never had. When I got into the NBA and got a little bit of money, I developed this bullshit ego thinking I was who I™m not. I was upset about my contract. I was upset that I wasn™t solidified as the go to man.
It was just bullshit on my behalf. It cost me some friendships that could have progressed. I could have gotten to know Jermaine a little better. I could have gotten to know Stephen Jackson a little better. Jamaal Tinsley. It™s something I truly regret to this day. I always wish¦if I had an opportunity to play with that team again? I think that I might. With that same team. I™d give everything up to do that. Not just the stars either. The whole team.
The Pacers were in a situation where they didn™t know what I was going to do next. I can™t fault the decisions they made.
MT: There was video of you flashing the CD of your group outside your car. Was that just you being an entrepreneur and marketing your business?
RA: People don™t understand. When David Stern suspended me, he told me that he was past the brawl. He was pretty upset over the brawl, but he seemed more upset that I came up with a rap label and saying that I was going to retire. Those were the main things that were getting to David. The main reason I was suspended was not the brawl. It was everything else. The best thing that could have happened to me was taking a leave of absence without pay. It would have given me a chance to clear my mind and then I wouldn™t have been in the brawl. I wouldn™t have been in the brawl (Ron laughs).