By Scott Tibbs, February 3, 2014
You often have to wonder what NBA executives are thinking. Are the Indiana Pacers so desperate that they would risk destroying the franchise for a slight increase in productivity? Have they not learned the lessons they should have learned after a series of bad actors crippled the franchise for years?
The 2004 NBA Playoffs were the beginning of the end for the Indiana Pacers. Ron Artest committed a stupid flagrant foul that contributed to the Detroit Pistons reaching the NBA Finals. Indiana had won 61 games and was considered the favorite to represent the Eastern Conference, before Artest's antics crippled the team.
It got far worse the next season, when Artest lost his temper and charged into the stands to attack a Pistons "fan" who threw a drink at him. While I vehemently disagreed with the way David Stern handled the case (and I am very glad to see him gone from the NBA) there is no question that Artest's thuggish behavior was unprofessional, childish, and unworthy of an NBA player. Things continued to get worse and worse for the next few years, with a series of bad behavior that made the Pacers the equivalent of the infamous "Portland Jail Blazers."
You would think the Pacers front office would have learned their lesson. Obviously, they have not, because they signed notorious thug Andrew Bynum, who is known for violently attacking other players on the court - including one particularly vicious attack that left an opposing player with a broken rib and a collapsed lung. The actions of Bynum and his L.A. Lakers teammates would have constituted felony assault if committed by someone who was not a multi-millionaire pro athlete. And people wonder why professional athletes think they are above the law.
Bynum is a special kind of thug, a spineless sniveling coward who violently attacks much smaller players. He belongs behind bars, not playing basketball in the NBA. By trading for Bynum, the Pacers proved they learned absolutely nothing from the trouble caused by the players they finally rid themselves of a few years ago. Without Bynum, the Pacers were already winning at a clip that could deliver a 63-win season. Why take the risk?
A professional basketball team's goal is to win championships, obviously. Perhaps Bynum can contribute to that - though after he single-handedly wrecked the Philadelphia 76ers 2012-2013 season and performed well below expectations for the Cleveland Cavaliers, that is by no means a sure thing. But teams also have a responsibility to set a good example. There are few teams that need to be more careful about their reputations than Indiana.
I was happy with the 2013-14 Indiana Pacers. They had assembled a good crew of both players and citizens. It is beyond me why they would risk throwing all of that away by signing a whining, moping, cowardly thug like Andrew Bynum. I refuse to root for the Pacers, and I fervently hope they lose every game they play from this point forward. They have shown they no longer deserve the success they have enjoyed this season.