Artest: Request came out the 'wrong way'

Updated: November 11, 2004, 2:09 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest said Wednesday that he asked head coach Rick Carlisle for as much as a month off to heal his aching body and recover from a hectic schedule.

Ron Artest
Guard
Indiana Pacers
Profile
2004-2005 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
3 24.3 7.0 2.3 .474 .850

Among the issues Artest cited to the media was fatigue over his busy schedule promoting a soon-to-be released rap album.

However, Pacers president Donnie Walsh told ESPN Insider Chad Ford on Thursday morning that Artest, who has sat out the team's last two games, did not ask for time off because of his work on the rap album, nor was he being punished for his work on the album.

"He had a number of things going on in his life," Walsh said. "He came into camp weighing 260 pounds. It was the first time in his career he hasn't really been in shape. The heavy minutes he's been playing were taking their toll physically. And he had other personal issues that were troubling him. The rap stuff never came up.

"He's the one guy that gives maximum effort on our team every day, whether that be in the practice or the games. That's been true this year as well. No one here is questioning his effort or his intensity. He just had some things that had to be worked out, and Rick and Ron agreed on a course of action that led to him sitting out the last two games. He wasn't suspended or fined. It wasn't about that."

What was it about?

"My body has been aching, I was going to take some time off and I said it the wrong way," Artest said during a short news conference before the Pacers' 102-68 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. "Everything that happened wasn't too negative. I kind of surprised the team by wanting to take some games off, just to get back together, maybe stay home for a little bit, rest a little bit and come back."

He certainly surprised Carlisle, who said Tuesday that the situation, "compromised the integrity of the team. It's a private team matter, and I'm going to leave it at that."

"I don't know what that means," Artest said. "They probably expected a little more; expected me to play every game. Everybody's different. It's early in the season, so I feel like I could take some time off early and be ready for the long stretch."

So Carlisle didn't play Artest for Tuesday night's win over Minnesota and Wednesday night's loss to the Clippers. Artest, who will not lose any salary, is expected to return Friday at Philadelphia.

The 24-year-old is scheduled to release his debut rap album later this month and has been spending a lot of time making promotional appearances.

"I've been doing a little bit too much music, just needed the rest," Artest said. "I've still got my album coming out Nov. 23. After the album comes out I'm going to make sure all of my time is focused on winning a championship."

It's the latest in a long line of controversial situations for Artest, ranging from destroying television monitors at Madison Square Garden two years ago to missing the team flight to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals at Detroit last season.

Carlisle tried to downplay the issue before the game Wednesday night.

"This isn't the Cuban missile crisis. It's not life or death, it's not about national security," Carlisle said. "It's just simply about a group of guys needing to remind ourselves -- all of us -- about the sanctity of team, and what it's about."

The message appears to have landed with Artest.

"It was a good decision," Artest said. "I need the rest. There's a lot of things going on."

When asked if he thought the punishment fit the crime, Artest said, "There was no crime done. I think it helped out. I was tired.

"I was doing a lot. I was running around a lot and doing a whole bunch of stuff and I've also been working out, so I think I wore myself down physically, I wore myself down mentally. I was ready to take some time off, at least like a month off, but two games is enough."

With so many injuries, the last thing the Pacers needed was to lose another player, especially one of their two All-Stars.

The Pacers played with just nine players against the Clippers.

"We've spent a lot of time and a lot of money this summer traveling, working guys out, working toward a plan to win this year and that plan was built around team," Carlisle said. "It's important in this early stage that we're steadfast in that understanding."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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