5 Strangest Moments in L.A. Lakers' Metta World Peace's Career
Bold, brash, entertaining, controversial, downright nuts. Those who have followed the career of Metta World Peace will use these adjectives and more to describe the career of one of the most enigmatic characters in professional sports today.
The artist formerly known as Ron Artest has had his fair share of antics, both on and off the court, throughout his 13-year career. Some have been humorous, others have been worrisome, but overall, they're just plain fun to witness.
Here are five of World Peace's most outstanding moments throughout his NBA tenure:
The Brawl at Auburn Hills
During a 2004 game against the Detroit Pistons, World Peace, then with the Indiana Pacers, got in a scuffle with Pistons center Ben Wallace over what was being disputed as a hard foul. This altercation led to John Green, a fan at the Palace at Auburn Hills, throwing a cup of Diet Coke at World Peace.
And as we all know, the rest is history.
World Peace was issued a 73-game suspension for his brawl in the bleachers and received a sentence of one year's probation alongside then-teammate Stephen Jackson.
From the Court...to the Studio?
In yet another confusing day in Pacers history, World Peace requested time off for what he was chalking up to rehabbing his body and resting. Controversy surrounded this request, as rumors quickly circulated that he was really taking time off to prepare to promote his upcoming rap album.
The Pacers' front office vehemently denied any speculation that there was any validity to this rumor. Team president Donnie Walsh even vouched for World Peace, stating that his out-of-shape body was reason enough for the former all-star to take time off.
In a 2004 interview with ESPN, 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.
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh, ESPN.com, Nov. 11, 2004
Does Metta World Peace have a future in rap after his NBA career is over?
Nevertheless, head coach Rick Carlisle benched World Peace for two games following the incident. Did he really need the rest, or did he just want to make sure his debut album got the exposure he needed? Just like trying to find out the amount of licks that it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Breaking His Airness
Legendary professional wrestler Ric Flair is well-known for coining the phrase, "To be the man, you've got to beat the man." In 2001, World Peace did just that to Michael Jordan, almost quite literally.
During his time with the Chicago Bulls, World Peace played a pickup game against Jordan, in which he defended Jordan, perhaps a little too aggressively, breaking two of his ribs.
World Peace later showed regret upon hearing the news that he injured Jordan, who was then playing for the Washington Wizards. But regardless of the situation, it could be said that it was at that very moment that MWP established himself as one of the most defensively dominant players of the last decade.
What's in a Name?
In what's been his boldest move since donning a Lakers uniform, Ron Artest decided to undergo a name change in 2011. And in true uniquely Artest fashion, the Lakers forward became Metta World Peace.
World Peace cited the reason for the change was due to a desire to change his image—to refrain from being the bad boy who would have given Dennis Rodman a run for his money to being a team player, cooperative and focused.
Since the name change, he's made some significant changes to live up to his promise. Aside from the occasional hard foul here and there, MWP has done a remarkable job of containing himself from being the pariah the NBA has come to know.
Despite changing his name to demonstrate a more human side of him, he has never stopped being the tough guy on the court, making sure that his opponents know who owns the paint whenever L.A. plays.
In the Lakers' 99-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks on March 3, L.A. had achieved something that was truly a cause for celebration this season: They were at .500. As a means of celebration, World Peace, in a very "my parents are out of town, party at my place!" type of attitude, invited reporters to his house after the game for some post-game sushi.
In a world where athletes may not always be the friendliest to the press, MWP showed that, perhaps, there is some humanity in these million-dollar ballers after all.
While it isn't known who ended up taking World Peace's offer (after all, taking part in the sushi dinner may have easily cost many reporters their jobs the next day), the very thought that an NBA player of his caliber took the time to cater to those who can either glorify him or demonize him demonstrated a side to World Peace that should perhaps rear its head more often.
Whether you like Ron, Metta, or any personality in between, it's no argument that this character will truly be remembered for his colorful nature and his unpredictability. It is unknown as to what the next chapter in the storybook that is Metta World Peace's career may hold, but we do know this: It will certainly leave much to talk about.
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