Metta World Peace
Written by: Andrew Sinatra
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Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) was born November 13, 1979 and raised in the Queensbridge projects of Queens, New York, has been recognized for a blue-collar style of play, which often gets overshadowed by his more colorful antics. An NBA All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, the burly forward has gained a reputation in the NBA as one of the league’s premier defenders. This is evident in World Peace’s All-Defensive First Team selections in 2004 and 2006 and All-Defensive Second Team selections in 2003 and 2009. Despite his role in the 2004 “Malice in the Palace” brawl that netted him an 86-game suspension, World Peace has brought his career full circle with the Lakers as a member of the 2010 championship team and the winner of the 2011 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
A 1997 graduate of La Salle Academy in Manhattan, World Peace also played on the same AAU team as Elton Brand and Lamar Odom. He earned notoriety as a 1997 McDonald’s All-American while attending St. John’s University in Queens from 1997 until 1999.
Following a trip to the Elite Eight, the hometown hero entered the 1999 NBA Draft, where the Chicago Bulls selected him with the 16th pick. World Peace would go on to be named to the All-Rookie Second Team in the first of his two full seasons with the Bulls.
World Peace’s career took off following a trade to the Indiana Pacers on February 19, 2002, where he made his first playoff appearance that same season. World Peace arguably had his best season in 2003-2004 where he earned the honor of the league’s top defender and experienced a significant climb in his scoring average from 15.5 to 18.3 points per game.
Dark Years (2005-2008)
The following season, however, World Peace was in the middle of one of the league’s darkest moments, as players and fans became immersed in an early season brawl between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Dubbed the “Malice in the Palace,” World Peace was hit by a thrown drink following an altercation with Ben Wallace, leading him to enter the stands and spark a melee that resulted in a postponed game, legal charges and 146 games in suspensions among the players, including 86 games for World Peace–the longest in league history for an on-court altercation.
Following his return from the suspension, World Peace demanded a trade from the Pacers. He eventually was traded to the Sacramento Kings, where his defensive-minded play meshed well with Rick Adelman’s coaching philosophy. As a result, the Kings reached the playoffs in 2006. Despite topping 20 points per game in the 2007-2008 season, World Peace found himself on the move again, reuniting with Adelman in Houston as a result of an August 21, 2008 trade.
Artest/Metta Joins Lakers
After a season with the Rockets, World Peace agreed to a five-year contract, worth about $33 million, with the Los Angeles Lakers. Teaming up with former nemesis Kobe Bryant as part of a talent-laden starting lineup, World Peace recorded career lows in field goal attempts per game. Nonetheless, World Peace carved out a niche on the team that highlighted his nose for the ball, defensive prowess and fearless mentality. This was especially evident during the 2010 playoffs, when his offensive rebound and put-back at the at the end of regulation gave the Los Angeles Lakers a 3-2 edge over the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals.
World Peace’s three-pointer during the closing moments of Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics has arguably been his shining moment as a Laker. His bucket stretched the lead to six points, essentially clinching the team’s 16th championship. World Peace totaled 20 points for the game and made up for a lot of Bryant’s poor shooting.
Following the game, the newly crowned champion thanked his psychiatrist in his post-game interview. With the help of the media, World Peace prompted an awareness campaign for mental health issues. He raised more than a half a million dollars for various charities after raffling off his championship ring. World Peace also agreed to donate at least a portion of his 2011-2012 salary to the cause, securing his selection for the 2011 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Metta World Peace Video Highlights