In Las Vegas for summer league
Great diplo-speak in the paper today from Joe Maloof regarding Ron Artest: "He has to balance the way he acts. He's got to control his emotions a little better. You've got to try and keep your cool a little bit. Take a deep breath and quit flying off the handle with comments that don't make sense. I hate to say it that way, but that's how I feel. It doesn't make sense to me."
Screaming "Put a lid on it!" with veins bulging from the neck and forehead rarely comes across as tactful.
Good for Joe. One of the best and worst thing about the Maloofs as Kings owners is that they're fans and often lead with their emotions, and so they're as frustrated by the waves of nuttiness as you.
But here's what they won't say, with any tone:
It's their fault too.
Not just Joe or Gavin or Mama Maloof, as Artest calls Colleen, the family matriarch. Anyone in the organization that had a hand in trading for him. Anyone in the organization that has not seen to it that Artest has not been traded away. Anyone in the organization that has let him get away with it for the two years, 5 months and 19 days in the interim. Not that you're counting.
The Kings could not have been expected to change Artest. Other management types and coaches before them have likewise failed and only ended up trying to rub the stabbing pains from their temples. One top exec, Donnie Walsh, had a very healthy, positive relationship with Ron-Ron in Indiana. One coach, Bill Cartwright, did in Chicago. No go.
Somewhere along the way, though, they could have separated themselves from the madness. But conscious decision by conscious decision, they contributed to the circus coming to town.
1. Traded for him. When everyone knew how he was.
2. Didn't hold him accountable. Many times. Most recently was March, as Artest accuses the coaching staff of rolling over as the season winds down. "We're trying to make the playoffs. Once we get the coaches believing that we can make the playoffs, we'll be fine." He's fined $5,000. They didn't suspend him for a game at about $82,000. He could have fought it through a union grievance, but, either way, the Kings brushed the whole thing off as Ron being Ron.
3. Didn't trade him away.
So they get the new checklist.
1. Can't complain.
2. Can't throw their hands up in exasperation.
3. Can't complain.
4. Can't wonder why this is happening to them.
5. Can't complain.
If they don't want to trade him, fine. That's their call. Special talents help you win, and Artest is definitely a special talent. But then they can't go three shades of pale every time he mocks them.
This has become the Kings' deal as much as Artest's. While they did not create the personality, they perpetuated it. Allowed it to come, to grow and to stay.