The Los Angeles Lakers roster will include 35-year-old veteran forward Metta World Peace, known most of his life as Ron Artest and for a short time as “The Panda’s Friend.”
The six-foot-seven native New Yorker rejoins the Lakers after his departure in 2013, when the team waived him under the amnesty clause to avoid exceeding salary cap restrictions.
Artest served as a huge contributor to the Lakers’ 2010 NBA championship campaign. In Game Five of the Western Conference Finals he sunk a three-pointer at the buzzer to defeat the Phoenix Suns and scored 20 points in game seven against the Celtics, helping to catapult the Lakers to their 16th and last world championship. In 2011, Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace.
Yahoo Sports reported the Lakers recently waived guard Jabari Brown to open up a slot for World Peace. He comes back to the team after stints with the New York Knicks, the Chinese Basketball Association, and an Italian league.
Things have not always been peaceful for Mr. World Peace. He earned the dubious distinction of obtaining the longest suspension in NBA history for an on-court violation. World Peace missed 86 games for his part in an infamous 2014 brawl in Auburn Hills, Michigan, referred to as “Malice at the Palace.” As clickondetroit.com reported:
The Detroit Pistons were getting blown out by division rivals Indiana Pacers…. With under a minute left, and the Pistons, down by 15, the game was all but over. Then Ben Wallace took a hard foul from reigning Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest near the hoop, with about 45 seconds left. The foul didn’t seem that hard, but Wallace, clearly frustrated with the entire game, shoved Artest across the court. What happened next would change the NBA forever. After Wallace shoved Artest, both team benches emptied to control the feud. The fight seemed over after just a few moments, but then Pistons fan John Green threw a beer at Artest, who was laying on the scorers table. Artest charged the crowd, igniting an all-out brawl at the Palace.
Yahoo reported that World Peace’s return includes a long-term plan for him to become an assistant coach. Already he mentors 2014 No. 7 overall pick Julius Randle, as well as others.
A former St. John’s University standout and overall 16th pick in the 1999 NBA draft, MWP averaged 13.7 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15 NBA seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, Lakers, and New York Knicks.