|Tinsley happy to be alive after downtown shooting|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 December 2007 13:31|
That was the Indiana Pacers guard's mindset 36 hours after being shot at with an assault weapon in front of a downtown Indianapolis hotel. He was not injured.
``The man upstairs, he gave me another opportunity to see another day. When athletes step out, anything can happen,'' the sixth-year player said after Monday's practice.
Tinsley met with coach Jim O'Brien and team president Larry Bird a day after the guard and several companions were targeted in the early Sunday morning shooting that wounded the team's equipment manager. The suspected shooters have not been arrested as police continue to investigate.
The team didn't punish Tinsley in the latest instance of Pacers players finding trouble - or trouble finding them.
First-year coach O'Brien said Tinsley did nothing wrong, other than making bad decisions, but he knows the damage might already have been done to an image the franchise has worked frantically to rebuild.
``Of course, you worry about your fans and the community and how people look at you,'' Tinsley said. ``I made a stupid mistake, again.''
This episode was Tinsley's third late-night incident in about 14 months. It is the latest in a three-year string of off-court problems that have engulfed the franchise, starting with a brawl with Detroit Pistons fans in 2004.
The Pacers have since traded two of the main participants in the brawl - Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson - but the franchise still is digging out, and Tinsley continues to find trouble.
He was there when then-teammate Jackson fired a gun into the air several times before being hit by a car at an Indianapolis strip club in October 2006. Tinsley and another Pacers player, Marquis Daniels, face a Jan. 14 trial on charges stemming from a bar fight nearly a year ago.
In the latest incident, Tinsley's group had arrived at the ``Cloud 9'' club in a Mercedes, a Rolls Royce and a Dodge Charger, all owned by Tinsley. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Paul Thompson said a group gathered around the Rolls Royce and gave Tinsley a hard time about his cars and his earnings.
The group realized after leaving the club that a car and a pickup truck were following them, Thompson said.
Instead of going home, Tinsley's group pulled into the Conrad Hotel, where someone in the vehicles that were following opened fire, spraying bullets on the hotel, Tinsley's cars and nearby buildings. Tinsley said he pulled into the Conrad because he didn't want the people following him to know where he lives.
Rich pro athletes getting into trouble isn't new. Examples are found in all pro sports.
But the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts - despite having a higher profile in the city - haven't had the same problems with their athletes.
Colts coach Tony Dungy said Tinsley's trouble scratches the surface of a larger problem - violence towards athletes - that has been spotlighted since the murder of Washington Redskins defensive back Sean Taylor last month.
``I didn't really think of it as a Pacers issue, I thought about it as an American issue,'' Dungy said on Monday. ``There's a lot of that going on around the country. Somehow, we have to get the message out to the whole country that this is not the way to go. Life is too precious.''
Dungy said his team polices itself.
``I don't know that I have to reiterate it to the team, but it's an opportunity in the community to get the message out that you've got to be careful where you go and who you associate with, that firing guns and trying to kill people is not the way to go,'' he said.
Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning said he doesn't carry much money or wear much jewelry, and he's careful about his activities.
``Guys have got to make better decisions about where ... they go and use better judgment,'' Mourning said Sunday after hearing of the shooting. ``If we go out and flaunt and expose our luxuries, there are some jealous people out there who want it.
``I'm not saying you've got to hide it, but don't be flamboyant. Don't walk into a club with a crowd of people wearing a $250,000 chain around your neck or pull out a wad of hundreds for everybody to see.''
Tinsley apologized to his family, teammates and fans.
If attendance is any indication, fans could be showing they are tired of a troubled team, one that missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1997. As of Sunday, the Pacers were averaging just 12,517 fans for home games in the 18,345-seat Conseco Fieldhouse, 28th out of 30 teams.
Police arrested one person in Tinsley's group for an outstanding warrant in Georgia for dealing a controlled substance.
Team equipment manager Joey Qatato was struck in both elbows as he sat with Tinsley in the Rolls Royce, which was struck by several bullets, as was the Charger. The 48-year-old Qatato was taken to Methodist Hospital, where he was treated and released.
``I'm very disappointed that it happened, with me,'' Tinsley said. ``It was supposed to be fun. That's all I wanted to do is have fun.''