"How are they going to forget about me? That's impossible. They try to. People purposely try to forget about me. But that's impossible. It's just impossible." - Metta World Peace.
It's too early to tell if Metta World Peace has his game back. What isn't in doubt, as the quote above proves, is that his self-confidence never went anywhere. This, despite coming off the worst season of his 13-year NBA career.
Overweight, injured, unable to hit a shot, critical of his head coach, prone to dangerous acts of aggression and at times, completely distracted, Metta World Peace posted career-low numbers in points (7.7), steals (1.1) and minutes (26) last season.
Not too surprisingly, this led to a host of problems for Metta and the Los Angeles Lakers, who were unceremoniously ushered out of the playoffs by the OKC Thunder and their superstar forward Kevin Durant (who, not coincidentally, was the man that routinely torched World Peace in the second round series.)
Metta World Peace used the long summer break to get his act together, and reported to Lakers' camp completely healthy and in tremendous shape. Kobe Bryant says Metta looks like his old self, the one that terrorized opponents as a member of the Indiana Pacers.
The Lakers don't necessarily need World Peace to try and become that guy again, at least certainly not on the offensive end.
Kobe and company will be counting on World Peace to knock down open three-pointers (which he struggled mightily to do last season, connecting at a woeful clip of 29.6 percent), defend the opposing team's best wing scorer and perhaps above all, not lose his cool.
With a stacked team, there's reason for Laker fans to be concerned about Metta World Peace's role in the grand scheme of things. Can he accept fifth banana status despite all the hard work he put in during the offseason?
Will Mike Brown figure out a way to properly utilize the forward? Are there enough shots for Metta and everyone else in that ridiculously talented starting lineup? Should the Lakers consider bringing World Peace off the bench like they did at times last season (and would he be willing to accept the demotion again?)
We'll begin to answer some of these questions once the season kicks off.
Once again, Metta World Peace is the Los Angeles Lakers' wild card. He could either help push them back over the top, or submarine everything. Only time will tell what role he ultimately chooses to play.