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Category: Metta World Peace

Metta World Peace loves Peace Corps nickname

With his inconsistent performances to open the 2011-12 season, Lakers forward Metta World Peace didn't feel exactly ready to give himself and the rest of the reserves a nickname.

Too bad, because the fan site Lakers Nation already proclaimed this season's bench as the Peace Corps.

"Wow, that's amazing," World Peace said recently. "I love it. That's nice."

Still the player formerly known as Ron Artest appeared a little disappointed when a few reporters alerted him to the nickname. The reasons went beyond over-hyping the unit when World Peace feels it could play better. It turns out Lakers Nation also stole World Peace's thunder in coming up with his own bench nickname. And for now, World Peace refuses to tell anyone what it would have been.

"I'm not going to say what I was thinking because it has nothing to do with peace," World Peace said. "It has nothing to do with peace. I'm not going to say it. ... It was, like, the opposite of peace. But, cool, Peace Corps is good."

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Metta World Peace: I'm a 'worthless servant' [Video]

Metta World Peace apparently is not upset with his new role of coming off the bench.

In fact, he's so happy to be a Laker that he said he would do menial labor if it meant he could remain a part of the purple and gold.

He took to Twitter on Friday evening to express those sentiments.

Wrote World Peace: "Don't listen to people. I'm not happy coming off the bench. I am happy to be a part of the Lakers team period. Even if I was the water boy.

He didn't stop there.

"If I have to keep score, get the towels and clean the floor for my team I will," World Peace wrote. "If I have to shine shoes at the entrance and then sub in the game I will do that."

In a video interview with the Times before the Lakers played Denver, World Peace said he was quite aware of his standing in the L.A. basketball scene -- Kobe Bryant is the king and Blake Griffin is the prince. 

When asked where he stands, he said that he's a "worthless servant."

World Peace is way humbler than Ron Artest, whom he acknowledged would not have viewed himself in those obsequious terms.

"Artest is different," World Peace said.

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Metta World Peace's one-handed dunk defies the odds

In an instant, Lakers forward Metta World Peace made the 18,997 at Staples Center go from anxious to jubilant.

With his outside shooting far from reliable, fans gasped as he remained open with the ball behind the three-point line. But then he drove past Utah Jazz forward Derrick Favors and threw down a one-handed dunk, sending teammates and fans alike to their feet. After making perhaps his biggest shot since his three-pointer in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, the name World Peace has a better ring to it.

But don't expect him to do this frequently.

"That took all my energy," he said after scoring 14 points on five-of-nine shooting, 11 rebounds and four assists in the Lakers' 96-71 victory Tuesday over the Jazz. "I won't be doing that again."

Even if he tried, he probably couldn't. Whether committing a turnover, tripping over himself or firing an ill-advised shot, the player formerly known as Ron Artest often has taken Laker fans on an emotional rollercoaster. Any fast break with him involved usually has ended badly. He memorably couldn't even reach the rim on a fast-break in the Lakers' Game 4 loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals.

"I remember a lot of fast breaks," Lakers forward Pau Gasol said, "where he got good looks and it didn't quite finish that way."

But Tuesday's dunk wasn't a first.

In the Lakers' 112-104 victory over the Clippers on March 26, World Peace drove baseline past Chris Kaman for a reverse dunk in the second quarter and also had a one-hander on a fast break. Three days earlier in the Lakers' 139-137 triple-overtime victory over the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers forward stole the ball from Suns guard Steve Nash in the third overtime, drove for a fast break and finished with a one-handed dunk that gave the Lakers a 135-132 lead with 1:53 remaining -- then flexed and kissed his biceps afterward.

Reminding him of those plays hardly convinced World Peace he'd be dunking regularly.

"A few times," World Peace conceded. "Once every now and then. That hurt."

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Can Metta World Peace build off recent performance?

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All preseason, Metta World Peace predicted he'd drop double-digit efforts as a sixth man. His eyes lit up when Lakers Coach Mike Brown informed him he'd have a stronger leadership role by coming off the bench. 

Except, not many, really believed him. Especially when he admitted arriving to training camp overweight. World Peace's zero-of-eight shooting effort in his first preseason game and his four points on two of six shooting in the Lakers' season opener against Chicago only heightened those concerns. 

Out of nowhere, however, World Peace became the Lakers' lone highlight in their 100-91 loss Monday to the Sacramento Kings. His 19 points on eight of 14 shooting, four rebounds and four assists reflected his best statistical outing since scoring 24 in a Feb. 23 regular-season game last season against Portland. It also provided a blueprint on what World Peace's bench role should entail. But can he sustain it?

"One thing about Ron is as crazy as he seems, he does a very good job policing himself in terms of where he is physically," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said before the season started. "He's very honest about that. That makes our job easier." 

That hardly was the case a week ago. He shot eight of 21 in two preseason games (19%), looked out of shape shape and hardly directed the bench unit one bit. 

"I just said, 'Hey Metta, if you're going to shoot that much, you've got to make them,' " Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. "He said it was just taking him a little bit of time to get a rhythm coming off the bench, which I understand and I respect. I have faith in him."

Don't ask World Peace for much insight. He said he couldn't recall such a conversation and only spouted out cliches in a recent interview about "playing team ball."  But that took on a new meaning against the Kings. World Peace suddenly appeared more engaged, and it had nothing to do with him scoring points. It had everything to do with how he scored them.

Insead of settling for three-point shots, all eight of his field-goals came in the post. His first basket happened after he cut through the lane and converted off a feed from Josh McRoberts. His second happened when he snuck in the lane and converted on an offensive putback. His next three field-goals all came through operating the post, and well, you get the idea. 

The Lakers' front office held off on exercising his three-year, $21.5 million deal through the amnesty clause, perhaps hopeful he could provide one last spark. But it's presumptuous World Peace's play against Sacramento will become the norm rather than the exception because of his declining abilities. For a player whose shooting often remains flimsy, however, World Peace has no other choice but to view his recent effort as a model to duplicate.

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Photo: Lakers forward Metta World Peace, right, tries to keep the ball away fromClippers forward Caron Butler, left, and guard Chris Paul during last week's exhibition game at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / December 21, 2011 )

Things to take away from Lakers' 88-87 loss to Chicago Bulls

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1. The Lakers blew the game in the final two minutes. The Lakers 88-87 loss Sunday to the Chicago Bulls points to the horrible execution in the final minute. Pau Gasol and Josh McRoberts both missed two fre throws. Kobe Bryant was wrongfully called for a personal foul on Luol Deng. Bryant committed a costly turnover. Derrick Rose then blew past both Derek Fisher and Gasol for a running-hook shot that gave the Bulls a 88-87 lead with 4.8 seconds remaining. Bryant could'n't provide any heroics, as his game-winning shot was blocked by Deng as time expired.

2. The Lakers can't handle the ball. Despite his relentless optimism about his team, Lakers Coach Mike Brown acknowledged being uncertain about whether the Lakers can reduce the 21.5 turnovers they averaged in two preseason games. They cut it to 16 turnovers, but it was a few too many, particularly in the final minutes.

3. The Lakers' early season success hinges on effort. This game hardly looked pretty, but it was winnable. This shows that the Lakers will have to simply outwork teams while still mastering Brown's system. The Lakers have the talent to do that, but they often lacked a grinding mentality in previous seasons. 

4. Bryant maintained aggressiveness despite wrist injury. He didn't follow Fisher's prediction that he'd open the game by shooting a 22-footer to prove his right wrist is healthy. Despite not wearing any device to protect the torn lunotriquetral ligament, Bryant maintained his aggressiveness and showed that it wouldn't affect his play or shot.

Bryant finished with 28 points on 11-of-23 shooting shooting in 35 minutes, attacking the basket as he would in any other game. He drove in for a reverse layup past Bulls guard Ronnie Brewer and Noah. He ran high pick-and-roll sets with Pau Gasol. He looked comfortable shooting pull-up jumpers. He even stole a pass with his right hand and connected with Derek Fisher on a fast break. 

It's obvious that Bryant's wrist injury at least partly contributed to his eight turnovers. He often committed those when he ran isolation sets that required a lot of dribbling. Bryant can mitigate that by limiting shots through spot-ups and off-the-ball movement. Still, it was a good showing considering the circumstances Bryant faced. That's why it's fitting Bryant puncuated the night by making a fall-away jumper that gave the Lakers an 87-81 lead with 54.6 seconds remaining.

5. The Lakers' defense appeared in flashes. The Lakers rotated their frontcourt so effectively to ensure Rose stayed out of the paint that he remained scoreless in the first quarter. But that effort didn't hold up as Rose finished with 22 points on eight-of-12 shooting. The Lakers appeared to communicate frequently on closeouts, but Chicago still went seven of 15 from three-point range. The Lakers showed effort defensively. They executed well at times in limiting Rose's drives, Chicago's inside presence and its outside shooting. But it wasn't always consistent.

Continue reading »

Metta World Peace struggles with bench role

Metta World PeaceHe may have changed his name. He may have changed his position. He may have even changed his role.

Regardless, Metta World Peace appeared in the Lakers' 114-95 preseason loss Monday to the Clippers with the same struggles he faced when he used to be Ron Artest.

But don't tell that to him. World Peace will tell you otherwise.

"I think I'm 100%," World Peace said. "I feel awesome. I feel really good. We obviously lost. But as far as grading how I feel? I feel awesome."

If World Peace were a teacher, he'd be charged guilty of grade inflation. The performance showed otherwise. He went zero for eight from the field, including zero for five from three-point range. He looked incredibly slow. And as far as leading the reserves, let's just say World Peace would've done a better service passing the ball considering every other bench player shot above 50%.

For now, Lakers Coach Mike Brown simply pleads for everyone to give World Peace a chance.

"He can play basketball the right way whether he comes off the bench or starts," Brown said. "I thought he had a couple of good looks. He rushed his shot a couple of times. One of his threes kind of went in and came out. I just wanted to keep trying to get him touches if we could so he could eventually get into a little bit of a rhythm."

Brown's positive reinforcement may help keep World Peace convinced that a bench role is more suited for him. He's immediately latched onto the idea, believing it's empowered him as a leader rather than viewing it as a demotion. World Peace certainly has a point that he's capable of bouncing back from poor statistical performances. But consider this just the beginning of a nail-biting exercise. Laker fans will continue to remain anxious whether World Peace is simply an ideal too difficult to achieve. But just like his acceptance of a bench role, World Peace remains adamant that improving will be "an easy adjustment" for one simple reason. 

"It's basketball," he said. "Basketball is fun."

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Photo: Lakers forward Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, grabs a rebound over Clippers guard Chris Paul during the Clippers' exhibition victory Monday at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times /

Metta World Peace wants Blake Griffin to posterize him

For those struggling with holiday gift ideas, look no further than a poster highlighting Clippers forward Blake Griffin dunking over Lakers forward Metta World Peace.

The only catch: The poster hasn't come out yet. But it will, at least if you take World Peace's claim seriously that he wants Griffin to posterize him.

"I want to be in the poster," World Peace said. "I'm not going to let him, but I can't stop him. I can't stop him from dunking. He'll jump over me."

World Peace made similar claims last season, but it didn't happen. But with the Lakers playing the Clippers in two preseason games next week on Monday and Wednesday, it's best that World Peace allows this to happen so it doesn't cost them in an actual game. And so last-minute shoppers have a gift idea.

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Metta World Peace feels empowered with bench role

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."

Continue reading »

Mike Brown to start Derek Fisher -- but not Metta World Peace

Metta World Peace

The Lakers continue to make moves.

But in this case it has nothing to do with the "big deals" General Manager Mitch Kupchak wanted to make. For the pessimistic, it has everything to do with shuffling the deck of a sinking ship. For the optimistic, it has everything to do with making adjustments and upgrading from within. Or perhaps, a bit of both.

After the Lakers missed out on acquiring Chris Paul, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said he's planning on starting Derek Fisher at point guard because of his experience and locker-room standing, though he stressed it's not a binding decision. What appears more binding involves playing Metta World Peace off the bench. And the player formerly known as Ron Artest loves the idea.

"It's going to be good," said World Peace, who last season averaged a career-low 8.5 points per game in 29.4 minutes per contest. "I get a chance to come in with extra responsibility, which I've had my whole career. It's going to put the other team off balance. When Kobe [Bryant], Pau [Gasol] and [Andrew] Bynum are out, you still have to double-team me. You can't leave me open. At all times on the floor, there will be a threat."

The Lakers sure hope so. They face plenty of uncertainty, regarding what direction the front office will take after shipping Lamar Odom and a second-round pick to the Dallas Mavericks for an $8.9-million trade exception and a first-round pick. Lakers center Andrew Bynum will serve a five-game suspension because of his forearm shove on Dallas guard J.J. Barea in the 2011 playoffs, moving Pau Gasol to center and recently acquired free-agent forward Josh McRoberts to power forward. Meanwhile, Brown said he's considering starting Matt Barnes, Luke Walton or Devin Ebanks at small forward. That, of course, is assuming the Lakers don't trade away  more players.

For now, however, there's one more stable position, beyond Kobe Bryant remaining on the team.

"I don't assume one way or the other what's going to happen coming into training camp," Fisher said. "I've never been given or guaranteed anything by any coach."

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-- Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Forward Metta World Peace -- yes, formerly Ron Artest -- towels off during the end of the Lakers' first practice on Friday in El Segundo. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / December 9, 2011

Metta World Peace gives thanks he still has his teeth

Metta World Peace is known for off-the-wall comments, but his bizarre response to a question at Lakers' media day Sunday may have topped them all.

When asked about his teammates' reactions to his name change, World Peace said: "I'm most happy that Jesus Christ did not let me lose my teeth when I was 20 years old."

And he didn't stop there.

"I was wondering, what if you kept your baby teeth until the age 18 or 20 and then you lose them," he said. "That would look really bad."

World Peace's antics brought some levity to a somber day in which many of the Lakers players were still in shock over the team's decision to send Lamar Odom to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday.

His name change has already become a source of humor around the league and in his own locker room -- but not everyone is on board.

Said forward Matt Barnes: "I call him Ron still."

Said rookie guard Andrew Goudelock: "I haven't actually called him Metta, I haven't called him Ron or anything. I just see him and I say, 'What's up,' because I didn't know what to do.

"They told me if I didn't call him Metta he might punch me in the mouth or something, so I was like, all right, I'm just going to say, 'Hey.'"

Well, the good news is that if Goudelock accidentally calls World Peace by his old name, he can rest assured that there won't be any blows directed at his face.

After all, World Peace made it clear that he has a deep appreciation for good teeth.

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