Get to know Metta World Peace
Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, joined the Knicks this offseason, signing a two-year contract to join his hometown team.
Native New Yorker
Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, grew up in the Queensbridge projects of New York City. He played high school basketball at La Salle Academy in Manhattan and played on the same AAU team as NBA players Elton Brand and Lamar Odom. World Peace has openly said he wanted to return home and play for the Knicks.
When it was time for college, World Peace did not travel far. He attended St. John’s University in Queens and played for the Red Storm from 1997-1999. As a sophomore during the 1998-99 season he averaged 14.5 points per game, 6.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists and led the Red Storm to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Ohio State.
1999 NBA draft
At the 1999 NBA draft, World Peace was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th pick, though many also remember what happened one pick earlier. With the Knicks picking 15th, many believed the team would select World Peace, a lifetime New Yorker. Instead, the Knicks ignored the cries of their fans and selected Frederic Weis. Weis never played a game in the NBA.
Defensive player of the year
Throughout his career, World Peace has earned a reputation as one of the NBA’s premier defenders. He has been selected to an All-Defensive team four times in his career, including first team All-Defense in 2004 and 2006. In 2004, his defensive tenacity helped earn him his first All-Star selection and the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Malice at the Palace
As a member of the Indiana Pacers, World Peace was involved in one of the most infamous moments in NBA history during a 2004 game against the Detroit Pistons. A brawl broke out after a hard World Peace foul on Pistons center Ben Wallace. As World Peace mocked Wallace from the sidelines, a fan threw a cup of soda at him. World Peace charged into the stands after him and several of his teammates followed. World Peace was suspended for the rest of the season, missing 86 games and losing almost $5 million.
Rebounding in Houston
World Peace’s reputation was smeared by the 2004 brawl and worsened when he demanded to be traded from the Pacers to the Sacremento Kings, where he played for three seasons. In 2008 he began to rehabilitate his image when he joined Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady on the Houston Rockets. World Peace became a fan favorite in Houston as he led the team to their first playoff series victory since 1997 with a victory over Portland in 2009.
World Peace won his first NBA Championship in 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers. World Peace signed with Los Angeles during the offseason, and started 77 games, averaging 11.7 points per game. During the playoffs, though he shot under 40 percent from the field, he made a number of crucial shots, including a game-winner in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns. Against Boston in the NBA Finals, World Peace hit a three-pointer that virtually sealed the series as part of a 20-point Game 7 effort.
In 2011 the forward, then known as Ron Artest, officially changed his name to Metta World Peace. World Peace told Stephen A. Smith of ESPN Radio that Metta means “friendship, love and kindness.”
If I could be like--Michael Jackson?
Upon joining the Lakers, World Peace took No. 37, as a tribute to Michael Jackson, who died less than a month before World Peace signed. Jackson’s album “Thriller” was No. 1 on the Billboard charts for 37 weeks. In 2010, he changed his number to 15, which was his number in college.
Off the court, World Peace has a history of eccentric behavior. During his rookie season in Chicago, he reportedly applied for a job at Circuit City to take advantage of the employee discount. He also admitted to drinking cognac during halftime of games early in his career, attended practice in a bathrobe and asked the Pacers for a month off during the 2004-05 season so he could work on his music career.