Ladies and gentlemen, Ron Artest becomes Metta World Peace!
Amid labor discord that threatens to delay, if not wipe out, the NBA season, there is suddenly World Peace.
He is 6 feet 7, wears No. 15 for the Lakers and once participated in the infamous "Palace Brawl."
Anyone now making his acquaintance will be meeting Metta World Peace. Those on a first-name basis can call him Metta, while those a little farther removed can buy jerseys with his last name of World Peace stretched across the back.
The most ballyhooed name change of the year became official Friday morning when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge commissioner approved Ron Artest's request to be called something else.
According to World Peace's publicist, Courtney Barnes, the Lakers forward had been contemplating the switch for years but "it took years of research and soul-searching to find a first name that was both personally meaningful and inspirational." Metta is a Buddhist term that means loving kindness and friendliness toward others.
Artest -- er, World Peace -- had hoped to adopt the new moniker last month but was rebuffed because of an outstanding traffic ticket. Ticket paid, World Peace can now reign.
And it may be spreading fast. Artest's 8-year-old daughter, Diamond, has said she wants to adopt her father's new surname.
World Peace was scheduled to attend Friday's hearing, but his attorney, Nahla Rajan, announced at 9:50 a.m. that he would not be coming. Commissioner Matthew C. St. George approved the name change a few minutes later in a hearing that lasted about 30 seconds.
-- Ben Bolch
Photo: Metta World Peace. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times.