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Metta World Peace feels empowered with bench role

December 16, 2011 |  8:00 am

Just as Metta World Peace predicted his scoring will increase by assuming a bench role, Lakers Coach Mike Brown placed his arm around him.

"If that second unit isn't rolling, whose fault is it?" Brown asked.

Said World Peace: "My fault."

Said Brown: "It's on you."

Brown hardly was blowing up World Peace's spot. It just revealed how Brown convinced World Peace to accept a bench role by making him feel empowered.

With the switch, World Peace predicts his scoring average will sky rocket since he's no longer having to delegate to Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. He believes he can provide leadership that feels a void with Lamar Odom's departure to Dallas. And he envisions much more success than he had under Phil Jackson's triangle offense.

"This is going to give me a chance to help the team," said World Peace, who averaged a career-low 8.9 points per game last season. "Coach Brown has put me in a position where I'm not just sacrificing myself in the starting lineup. But I'm still able to go out there and do what I do. That's to play basketball and still dominate. That's good for me."

What World Peace offered in a nearly 20-minute interview with reporters involved plenty of revisionist history regarding his poor 2010-11 season. He argued his poor offensive numbers pointed to the Lakers' depth chart. In reality, it spoke more to his discomfort level in the triangle offense and his trigger-happy shot selection. World Peace acted like he intentionally dipped his numbers so he wouldn't disrupt the offense. In reality, his numbers dipped because he disrupted the offense. And his rationale for playing poorly in the Western Conference semifinals against the Dallas Mavericks makes sense only to World Peace himself. 

"If I was on Sacramento, Houston or Indiana and I was playing Peja Stojakovic, I would give him 40 every night," said World Peace, apparently still bitter the Pacers traded World Peace in 2006 for Stojakovic. "I let him off the hook last year in the playoffs. I felt like I didn't help my team by letting him off the hook. But I'm not going to force the issue.

Why did you let him off the hook?

"I just wasn't getting opportunities to abuse him," World Peace said. 

Regardless of World Peace's warped logic, he surely is receiving bench leadership opportunities, an interesting approach Brown adopted that might actually work. Inevitable questions arise on how that will affect World Peace's role as a lock-down defender against the opponent's best player. But as far as everything else goes, the switch to the bench might work mostly because World Peace loves the idea. 

Though Brown's partly addressing World Peace's declining abilities, he believes he'll be in a better position to succeed. Though World Peace's shot selection leaves a lot to be desired, he sounds willing to oversee the unit more and get them involved. And by engaging World Peace in a leadership role, Brown has made him feel more valued than when plenty of the starters last season simply avoided passing him the ball. 


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Mitch Kupchak always worries about Metta World Peace

--Mark Medina

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