Metta World Peace is going back to school.
On June 26th, World Peace will take his first class at UCLA, where he will be studying digital analytics and social media marketing.
“I’m definitely not retiring,” World Peace told Lakers Nation of pursuing his master’s degree. “But, I think that people should always have their education. I think people should never, ever let someone say, only play basketball. You should always have an education, education is very important.”
The decision was pretty easy for World Peace, who after being told by Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka that they did not have plans to bring him back next season, acted fast on his next move.
“So, the next morning I woke up, and I was like I’m going to go back to school.”
In reality though, it’s a plan Metta has been spinning the wheels towards since the Lakers won their last championship.
“I’ve been preparing for my future, probably since 2009, I started to think about 2014, [because] I thought I would be retired by 2014. So, just in case, I was preparing that whole time, and just getting involved in many different things and narrowing it down. What do I really like? What do I really want to do?”
“I want to use what I’m going to school for just to help people and have a lot of fun. And, I figure with learning digital analytics and learning social media marketing and a little bit about search engine optimization, I’m going to be able to have a lot of fun and help people. That’s my main goal, and I feel like once I learn a couple things, I can apply it to what I’m doing in my life now and I think it will be perfect.”
But, just because World Peace is adding books to this summer’s offseason regimen, don’t think he’s giving up on his dream to play 20 years in the NBA.
“I’ve got two more years and I’m going to be 20 years, a professional basketball player,” Peace said about his plan to continue playing in the NBA. “This year I was more mentoring, but obviously, if I would have played I would really have had Staples Center rocking more! I still feel like I can bring something to the table, whether it’s mentoring or whether it’s playing, I’m open to either.”
And, what if a team reaches out to him with an assistant role or player development role, from the bench?
“Right now, I’m only playing. I’m not ready to coach or players development, that’s later.”
In the same thought, Peace quickly reflects on his last year in Los Angeles and not only how much fun he had, but also how much it encouraged him that he can continue to play basketball at the highest level. Peace referenced the Winners Board that the Lakers coaching staff updated after every practice, which awarded points to winners of competitive drills.
He started to get giddy just talking about it, and couldn’t hold back his competitive side.
“I was the leader in practice,” Peace said about the Winners Board updated throughout the season. “Tarik Black was the leader, but then I was the leader, it showed I can still play. When Lou Williams left (got traded to the Houston Rockets), I was tied with Lou Williams, I think we both had 78 points. Some people say he was leading, but that’s a total lie. We both had 78 points at the top of the board and look how he’s playing with the Houston Rockets?”
Which led Metta to conclude.
“I’m clearly still one of the best players in the league. Definitely better than 50% of the players.”
This much is true. Confidence has never been an issue for World Peace.
That confidence is something Peace tried to instill in all of the Lakers young core, who he believes have a very bright future.
“Some people are looking for that next star, but I don’t really care about the next individual star,” World Peace said of the Lakers young core. “The next individual star, I put them in a piece of paper, crumble it up and throw them in the garbage. As far as the next team, and collectively being a unit, I’ll put that in a frame and hang it on my wall. I’m more interested in the unit, than who’s the next individual star, I don’t really care about that.”
Though World Peace has faith in the Lakers young core, he doesn’t think they can do it alone.
“They all have a chance,” World Peace said of whether he sees the young core coming together to win a championship someday. “But, they can’t do it by themselves.”
“I think the coverage needs to be on the unit, not just one person. Look at Westbrook, he averages a triple-double, but he needs somebody, look at Karl Malone, he never won a ring, he was a great individual player, Hall of Famer. You need a collective group. I encourage the Lakers fans to stop looking for that person and look for 15.”