As a few of you know, some of the writer's on the network are holding a discussion about their teams and this NBA season. Brian at Depressed Fan asked me a couple of questions, so let me reply to those.
The Pacers basically stood pat in the offseason. All the white guys are back, their petulant star, Jermaine O'Neal came back, despite practically begging for a trade. We're looking at the same team who missed the playoffs last year, the only significant change is the coach. Is he really making that much of a difference? Jim O'Brien's track record is a lot better than his reputation would lead you to believe. Are you a believer?
I think that the main thing with Jim O'Brien is that he is a coach with a voice. While might not be the best coach in the NBA, he is making his way THE way, which is a nice change of pace in this city. I think most of the struggles that the Pacers encountered last year had a lot to do with the coach and not the players. Carlisle seemed so unemotional on the sideline and several nights he looked like he was uninvolved and going through the motions. At this point in the season, one which Indiana is supposed to be gunning for a lottery pick, O'Brien has shown this city and the rest of the league that the team can succeed. I am highly optimistic that they will and he is a big part of that. So yes, I am a believer in Jim O'Brien.
How do you feel about Jermaine O'Neal right now? The guy demanded a trade, the team didn't get it done, now you have to rely on him in what you hope will be a playoff run. Do you believe his heart is in it? Does winning change things for him, or for you? I know my first reaction to a guy who turns on my team is F*ck him. How do you overcome that?
I am much like you. If a player on my team wants to leave, then leave. If you are that disgruntled with making all this money and you feel like you "deserve" better, then go find it. Winning doesn't change my perception of a player. I'd rather have a guy that goes out and does his job and have the team lose, than a guy who wins, but complains about everything. The Pacers tried to accomodate him and trade him to Boston, but it was rumored that JO nixed the deal because he doesn't get along with Danny Ainge. Well, who fu**ing cares? He didn't want to play here and he didn't want to play there, so where does he want to play? With Kobe? HA - he said he wanted to win, not run down 35 shot attempts a night from one guy. I wish there was a rule in place that allowed NBA teams to cut a player without penalty when they start doing stuff like that. Then, when another team signs that player, the former team gets compensated for their loss (via pick or cash, or both). I do think that his heart is in the game though. I think that he is smart enough to realize that he could be "auditioning" for another team, so he should play pretty hard this season, I assume. I do know that the biggest factor in all of this is his team. If they can trust that he is giving it his all, then they will do the same. If that ever comes into question, then there could be some big problems down the road. Also, even if JO doesn't want to be here, he has done a ton of community work within the city and state and I would miss seeing that if he were to leave.
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