Friday, July 12, 2013

Peace Go With You, Metta

As expected, the Lakers waived Metta World Peace using their amnesty provision, ending his four-year tenure with the team. His impact is simple. Much as I didn't like losing Trevor Ariza in 2009, the Lakers don't win the 2010 NBA championship without MWP's contributions in the playoffs.

Many of us remember this. Game 7 of the 2010 Finals. I watched at my house with several of my close friends after failing to get a spot at Buffalo Wild Wings.  I remember talking to my man Keith about the game beforehand and he predicted that MWP would play huge to seal it. It was a vintage performance that I celebrated the following day.

Which led to this classic press conference that will live forever in NBA history. Not just for the comedy and pure joy, but the honesty - esp. when he acknowledged his Pacers days.

But I also remember this. His buzzer beater to beat the Suns in Game 5 in the 2010 Western Conference Finals. Right place, right time, basketball IQ to follow Kobe's shot, fight for the rebound and put it up.

I feel glad that we got to see Ron Artest mature in Los Angeles and grow into Metta World Peace, a funny character who was still fiery on the court. A fierce advocate for mental health awareness. A reminder to be yourself and be free. A winner of the NBA's Citizenship Award and a reminder that anybody can change if we allow ourselves to see them grow up instead of what they used to be.

It's been a fun four years. Metta may not be the dominant two-way threat he was 10 years ago but he's still a solid player. He'll be fondly remembered here like many other Lakers who won a title and endeared themselves to Los Angeles. I'll miss his antics, his passion, his fierce defense, those Metta moments that only he could do.

I'll leave it with words from the legendary Gil Scott Heron that inspired this title. Thank you, Metta World Peace.

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