Day 43 of the NBA lockout has come and gone.
It’s been a summer filled with the looming concern that NBA basketball may not return for the ’11-12 season, but there has been a single bright spot for Laker fans:
The player formerly known as Ron Artest has single-handedly kept the off-season interesting (and kept us from a million stories like this one).
First, there was the name change to Metta Worldpeace, something we asked him about yesterday at Matt Barnes’ Athletes vs. Cancer Celebrity Golf Tournament in Palos Verdes:
“A lot of guys did it over the years – World B. Free, Brian Williams from the Chicago Bulls, Ocho Cinco, Bison Dele. So, it’s pretty cool.”
And that’s just the thing Laker fans have grown to love over the last two years about Metta – the ideas we would describe as outrageous, he simply describes as pretty cool. While his antics may appear to some as misguided and purposeless, he thinks of them very differently.
“I think it’s good for the kids. They see so much negativity, and for them to see something like this [his name-change], it’s like a whole new wave for them to look up to and I think that’s important.”
Just a decade ago, you would never associate these types of statements with Ron Artest. His transformation is beyond just his efforts to integrate himself into the L.A. fan community (something he has done more effectively than any sports figure that’s ever played in this city).
He embodies a certain sense of sincerity that’s rarely seen from professional athletes, and one of the reasons it comes as no surprise he was out to support Matt Barnes’ Athletes vs. Cancer event.
“It’s great to see your teammates and your friends give back. It’s great to see people who are selfless, not selfish, and Matt Barnes is one of those people.”
This newly surfaced selflessness for Worldpeace has become an inescapable part of his persona. I would argue that is has been there all along.
We have been cultured to praise athletes and celebrities for their one-dimensional personalities; but Metta has found a balance between basketball and the most important things in life. It’s this perspective that has enabled him to offer a slightly different take on the NBA lockout.
“It’s just life, you know. Different things happen in life – [like] the riots in London. You just gotta’ adjust [because] you just never know what’s going to happen.”
The true irony of Metta speaking about life (a word he referenced 5 times in 20 seconds) is that he has packed a lifetime worth of living into a single summer.
There’s the name-change (which will be official on August 28th), his peculiar comments about Celine Dion, all the rumors surrounding the creation of his own reality show, him joining the cast of Dancing with the Stars, and most recently, the possibility of playing in the BBL for the Jets next season.
It can be exhausting trying to keep up with Mr. Worldpeace and all the events that follow him, but at the end of the day, he’s all about moving forward.
“You just gotta’ move on because you never know where life is gonna’ to take you [and] you never know when that next good thing is going to come.”
And no matter when that is, we can be certain that we have already found one in Metta Worldpeace.