No, the Lakers don't have typical New Year's resolutions. They don't need to work out more, eat healthier and get a better job.
But they too are looking forward to a fresh start and in an interview with The Times, they discussed what they hope the New Year will bring.
Josh McRoberts wants world peace (not his teammate), Metta World Peace wants to have fun, Kobe Bryant wants to be healthy, Jason Kapono wants his fans to send him books instead of candy and Matt Barnes is looking forward to moving on from a year that he said was both personally and professionally challenging.
Mark Medina, who runs The Times' Lakers blog, has some other suggestions -- so he talked with his colleague Melissa Rohlin in a video interview below about what the Lakers should be desiring.
Finally, worries over his rap music interfering with the NBA season no longer exist.
Metta World Peace, the Lakers player formerly known as Ron Artest, can rap in muffled tones while dancing girls dressed in referee outfits called "Slam Girls" anytime he wants. That's what he did recently in the video above at Club Highlands in Hollywood, and it appears this will mark just the beginning. He's teaming with Chicago Bears and former UCLA product Kahlil Bell to record a single called "Triple Threat." Another song, titled "Never Gonna Stop," will then follow.
For once, World Peace has all the time in the world to toil over such ventures. Before, as an Indiana Pacer, he insisted on taking off the beginning of the 2005-06 season so he could record a rap album. As soon as he signed with the Lakers in 2009, he recorded a song titled "Champion" but needed to wait a full year to win one before he could mix it with Dr. Dre and then release it. And in the middle of the 2009-10 season, World Peace put together a mix tape that only infuriated teammates concerned about his commitment level.
But with the NBA owners and players' union toiling away at labor negotiations, World Peace feels even freer to do whatever he wants. World Peace unabashedly embarrasses himself on "Dancing With the Stars" with gold-dyed hair, a flamboyant outfit and horrible dance moves, all for the sake of donating his $125,000 earnings to cancer research. For the same cause, he attempts to make his 8-year-old daughter, Diamond, a star by having her perform a song called "Fighter" in reference to surviving kidney cancer. And for a cause that mostly serves his own amusement, World Peace is now hanging out with the Slam Girls.
NBA fans may feel frustrated with the lockout. Both owners and the players' union may feel worn out from prolonged negotiations. And arena and team employees may feel worried about their jobs. But clearly, World Peace has enjoyed every locked-out minute.
Only a day after Magic Johnson criticized Ron Artest on "The Tonight Show" for legally changing his name to Metta World Peace, he fired back via Twitter by charging that Johnson's just pulling a "publicity stunt."
Publicity stunt for what? Selling more NBA2K12 games? That part isn't clear. But it is clear Ron joked about the lockout as a publicity stunt days earlier. It's also clear RonRon isn't happy. At least he didn't resort to name-calling, such as when he brought up Johnson's well-publicized infidelities after Magic criticized Artest's role seven years ago in the the Palace Brawl. Instead, World Peace took the diplomatic route.
"Magic should embrace the name change," tweeted MWP, who then said he plans to travel to India to help with mental-health facilities. "Can't a comedian slash unpredictable guy want to give back:) Magic down to earth! Come on buddy;)) I'm not only down to earth I'm on the dirt! I respect magic for giving back to communities thru big investors. Let me stay in my lane!!"
If RonRon's going to get this defensive over Johnson's criticism for changing his name and appearing on "Dancing With the Stars," then wait until what next season might bring. I've personally argued that Artest's off-court distractions can get out of hand, but that his poor 2010-2011 performance mostly pointed to his declining abilities. Whether the story line's accurate or not, a poor showing next season would bolster that opinion even more from both the media and possibly even teammates or ex-Lakers. The cure for ending such talk points to sharpening his game. It also involves taking any heat in stride. For now, World Peace appears frustrated that Johnson hasn't engaged him in diplomacy.
"Actually magic I called you but you didn't pick up," World Peace tweeted. "Everytime you tell me call I do but you never answer!! Magic instead of criticism in public we should team up. I'm making a major impact on society around america with my mental health campaign!"
For someone who just legally changed his name to World Peace, the Laker formerly known as Ron Artest offered some fighting words for Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant.
The reason: Many NBA players based in New York City and Washington D.C. will compete Friday evening in what's called "The Showdown" at Long Island University, broke Metta's loving kindness.
"I can't believe people trying to take over my city," World Peace tweeted. "For 13 yrs I Been in the league. And ever summer I dominated streetball. Truwarier!"
Of course, if Ron Ron feels the need to boast that "I run NYC streetball," he'd be better off proving it on the court instead of tweeting from 3,000 miles away. But he tweeted he remains in Los Angeles because he's working on two movies and filming a music video featuring Diamond and Sade Artest titled "Fighter." Yup, rarely do things involving him make much sense.
"Truwarier's verses Kevin Durants team. I got 200k or 300k on it!! Winner take all. For now I'm in LA!! Email my management if yal want it!!," he tweeted. "Anybody in america who really want to to play against my team forth money email Artestamg@gmail.com I'm tired of this! I run NYC streetball! If the goodman league wanna holla at the most consistent NBA streetball player holla. You can't just start doing street ball. My squad here. I'll take my squad with no pro players against any squad and there pro players."
--Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported that NBA owners have made a "modest push from their rigid stance on implementing a hard cap. Wojnarwoski also argues that the never-ending speculation regarding Kobe Bryant's overseas ventures helps his marketing brand.
--CBS Sports' Ken Berger reports owners are willing to drop a hard cap in exchange for adjustments to the luxury tax system and key spending exceptions.
-- Grantland's Jonathan Abrams and Bill Simmons debate which players NBA teams should get rid of through the amnesty clause. Abrams suggests the Lakers cut ties with Luke Walton, while Simmons counters with Metta World Peace.
Metta took some steps to bring World Peace on Wednesday by donating $285,000 to mental health charities across America.
He has pledged to give away more than $500,000 that he raised by raffling off his 2010 Lakers championship ring.
At the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, before handing giant checks to six women who represented various organizations, World Peace briefly discussed his own struggles with mental health.
"When I was a kid, I did see a counselor," he said. "My mom helped me out, she realized I was having problems when I was 13 years old. She realized I was going through a lot.
"We have a big problem right here in America with mental health, from little boys not understanding what it takes to be a good dad or be a good older brother or a role model -- to violence."
World Peace handed out $65,000 to Steinway Child and Family Services in Queens, N.Y.; $55,000 to Child Center of New York; $50,000 to Centers for Youth and Famillies in Little Rock, Ark.; $37,500 to Cleveland Christian Home in Cleveland; $37,500 to Centerstone of Central Tennessee in Nashville; and $40,000 to Indiana Community Health Network in Indianapolis.
Metta World Peace acknowledged that he's a horrible dancer, and suggested that some of his Lakers teammates would fare better than he did on "Dancing with the Stars."
In an interview (see video below), World Peace said Pau Gasol would be "awesome" on the show and that Lamar Odom would "definitely do well." He added that Josh Powell "can really dance." As for Kobe Bryant, he "would probably do OK," World Peace said
Even though World Peace was the first celebrity eliminated from "Dancing with the Stars" on Tuesday evening, he said he's not going to hang up his size 12 dancing shoes. In fact, he said, now he's taking ballet lessons.
"I can go to the club right now and really get it on," he said at the Grammy Museum on Wednesday after an event to donate $285,000 to mental health charities. "I couldn't say that for myself a long time ago."
As for his name change, which became official last Friday, the former Ron Artest said he's surprised that it has caught on. He then compared it to an addiction.
"People like the name, they think it's cool," he said. "The same way they think smoking cigarettes is cool."
But which name does he use when he orders a pizza?
Not World Peace. (People would think he was messing with them.)
And not Ron Artest. (He said he's worried that someone would mess with his pizza.)
Instead, he said, he uses "Mark Wahlberg." When asked why, he changed his mind and said he should use the name "Mark Jacobs."
"Somebody that's not real," he said of the 48-year-old major fashion designer.
Following the elimination, World Peace appeared with dance partner Peta Murgatroyd on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" (see both parts of the interview to the right) and discussed his experience on DWTS.
He acknowledged his lack of dancing ability but "I was just expecting the judges to see the effort and entertainment value."
Kimmel replied, "They saw the effort all right -- they saw you struggling to remain standing."
The wacky Laker also discussed his recent name change, telling Kimmel people can still can him Ron if they want but he is going to keep his new moniker "at least a couple of years -- until there's world peace."
During his monologue, Kimmel introduced a look back at all the great moments World Peace provided on DWTS -- and proceeded to show a three-second clip. (He had another great line about DWTS: "There were so many Kardashians in the audience, I thought I was watching the NBA Finals.")
And in case you missed the one and only World Peace dance competition segment ... yes, it really was that bad.
Heavens to Murgatroyd, Ron Artest can't dance under any name, and he proved it on tonight's season premeire of "Dancing with the Stars."
Even though he changed his name last week to Metta World Peace, DWTS host Tom Bergeron made a point of saying Artest would be dancing under his original name. And there's little chance Artest will be changing his name to Gregory Hines in the future.
Dancing the cha cha cha, Artest, sporting blonde hair with a blonde beard, moved with all the grace and agility of a person who just had a double hip replacement, earning a paltry 14 points from the judges. Artest's partner, Peta Murgatroyd, did all she could, but it was like trying to put Pavarotti in a wetsuit. A lot of effort that got her nowhere.
Fellow Lakers forward Lamar Odom was cheering him on from the audience, and if ABC has any brains at all, they will track down Mark Madsen and fly him in to give Artest a few tips on dancing.
That is, if Artest makes it past Tuesday's elimination.