Last September, troubled Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace. “Metta” is a Buddhist term roughly translated as benevolent love.
Metta World Peace is not living up to his name.
We mention the name change chiefly because readers might be taken aback by such absurd sentence constructions as “World Peace is a problem in the NBA,” or “World Peace stamps out good sportsmanship.”
World Peace could change his name to “Basketful of Cuddly Puppies” and it still wouldn’t mitigate the shame he brings to professional athletics with his unrepentant violence.
The most recent display came Sunday, when World Peace’s left elbow decked Oklahoma City’s James Harden so hard during a game that Harden suffered a concussion.
Sure, pro sports contains a certain degree of controlled violence. Read: controlled. Cross that boundary, and you abandon actual sport and dive straight into unforgivable thuggery.
For the blow to Harden, the NBA suspended World Peace for seven games. Like that’s going to work? Suspensions didn’t seem to work when he smacked Dallas guard Jose Barea across the face last year during the Western Conference semifinals. Or when he threw an elbow to San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili’s head in 2006. Or when he elbowed Portland’s Derek Anderson in 2004. We could make his list of violent outbursts even longer, but you’ll have to forgive us for wanting to conserve newsprint.
The only time World Peace faced anything close to meaningful punishment was in the aftermath of the 2004 brawl in which he and Indiana Pacers teammates barged into the stands to brawl with Detroit Pistons fans. The NBA suspended him for 73 regular-season games and 13 playoff games – without pay. That cost him $5 million.
But even then, that should’ve been the offense that sealed his banishment from professional basketball.
Instead – in what might be one of the most elaborate pranks ever – the Professional Basketball Writers Association named World Peace the winner last year of its annual J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. The NBA said he won for – get this – “his tireless efforts to promote awareness of mental health.”
He might want to do some checking into his own mental health.
Last September, when he started going by the name World Peace, he said, “Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world.” Together to do what? Elbow one another and scream obscenities?
World Peace needs to make up his mind. Does he or does he not want to be a suitable role model for kids? He willingly bought his ticket to fame. Now he’s got to take the ride – and that ride includes acting honorably.
Before this week, World Peace had been suspended nine times for a total of 102 games. That’s over 14 seasons.
He should be out of basketball for the rest of his life.