On the heels of "Good Jack's" explosive performance that propelled Golden State past the Mavs and on to the second round of the playoffs(7 of 8 from 3-land? Are you kidding? Heads up for a 1 for 10 in the second round), Mark Montieth shines a kind light on Jack and Ron Artest. He perfectly expresses the reason I find myself rooting for both guys despite their respective roles in the Pacers' current situation.
I don't think of Artest as someone who went into the stands to confront a fan who threw a beer on him, or who's had domestic issues with his wife. I don't think of Jackson as someone who went into the stands to support Artest, or was run over by a convicted felon in the parking lot of a strip club.
I think of two guys who love basketball, have used it to escape difficult surroundings, are routinely unassuming, engaging and generous, and have initiated grassroots charity efforts in the hometowns where they beat the odds.
Especially in the case of Artest, the internal scars may never heal. Would either give up their basketball fame and wealth for a peaceful childhood with a loving mother and father to guide their way? On some days, maybe. I for one can only empathize with the hardships Ronnie and Jack faced, so I root for them hoping their past erratic behavior remains in the past. Unfortunately, they both remain ticking bombs that can go off at any time. For that, I'm happy they are no longer with the Pacers, but I still hold out hope that one day those bombs are defused once and for all.