Metta World Peace plays basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers. Until recently, he was known by his given name, Ron Artest.
His new moniker notwithstanding, Mr. World Peace is not a peaceable man. He has been involved in several notorious incidents of basketball-related violence, including the infamous brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills. If I recall correctly, he once broke Michael Jordan’s ribs during a pick up game.
Yesterday, Mr. World Peace was at it again, landing a vicious elbow to the head of Oklahoma City’s James Harden. Harden, perhaps the best “sixth man” in the NBA, apparently suffered a concussion. As far as I can determine, it’s not clear whether he will be able to participate in his team’s final two regular season games, or what his status for the playoffs will be. As I understand it, under NBA policy he will have to pass a series of tests before returning to the floor.
Meanwhile, Mr. World Peace will almost certainly receive a suspension that, very likely, will keep him out of the playoffs. This would be a blow to the Lakers because Mr. World Peace is an excellent defender. If he were available, L.A. would rely heavily on him to guard such potential opposition stars as Kevin Durrant of Oklahoma City and Rudy Gay of Memphis. If he is not available, Kobe Bryant may be called on for more of this heavy duty defensive work, which could reduce his effectiveness on offense.
In any event, Mr. World Peace’s name change failed to change Mr. World Peace. A thug is a thug by any name.
However, the name change has contributed to my amusement when I watch or listen to Lakers games, and hear announcers say things like “World Peace just can’t seem to get it going.”
Artest isn’t the first NBA player to change his name into a message. Old-time Philadelphia 76ers gunner Lloyd Bernard Free renamed himself World B. Free. The nomenclatural makeover wasn’t quite as extensive, but then Free didn’t need a makeover the way Mr. World Peace does.