BY CLIFF BRUNT
AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS -- Jamaal Tinsley knows he has to make lifestyle changes, and he feels blessed to have the chance.
That was the Indiana Pacers guard's mind-set 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 an early Sunday morning shooting that wounded the team's equipment manager. The suspected shooters have not been arrested as police continue to investigate.
According to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Sgt. Paul Thompson, at least three people in Tinsley's group had guns, all of which were legal. Though police didn't say Tinsley was carrying a gun, he does have a permit.
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.
"I'm very disappointed that it happened, with me. It was supposed to be fun. That's all I wanted to do is have fun."
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. Thompson said a group gathered around the Rolls Royce and gave Tinsley a hard time about his cars and his earnings.
After leaving the club, the group realized a car and a pickup truck were following them, Thompson said, adding there were at least two people in the truck and four in the car.
Instead of going home, Tinsley's group pulled into the Conrad Hotel parking lot, where someone in the pursuing vehicles opened fire with a .223 caliber assault rifle, spraying bullets on the hotel, Tinsley's cars and nearby buildings.
Pacers trainer Joey Qatato was struck in both elbows as he sat with Tinsley in the Rolls Royce, which was hit by several bullets, as was the Charger. The 48-year-old Qatato was taken to Methodist Hospital, where he was treated and released.
Following the shooting at the hotel, Tinsley's brother, James, was part of a group that chased the shooter in one of Jamaal Tinsley's vehicles.
James Tinsley, who also has a gun permit, fired his 9 millimeter handgun during the chase but hasn't been charged because the incident is still under investigation, Thompson said. Jamaal Tinsley did not participate in the chase.
Rich professional athletes getting into trouble isn't new. Examples are found in all pro sports.
However, 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 toward 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," he said, "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."
However, incidents such as the shootout and chase that appear to be taken straight from a movie set, aren't that unusual.
"It happens all the time," Thompson said. "I'm not going to say it happens every day, but it does happen. It's not unheard of.
"The only reason it's noteworthy is because it's Jamaal Tinsley."