Before last season the Los Angeles Lakers signed veteran forward Metta World Peace to a training camp contract for potentially his season stint with the organization. While it seemed unlikely, World Peace beat out a bunch of young players to earn the team’s final roster spot.
More than his play on the court, World Peace provided veteran leadership and mentorship to a team that was filled with rookies and second-year players that lacked NBA experience. One player who benefitted from World Peace’s mentorship was then-rookie D’Angelo Russell.
Russell spoke about the advice that World Peace gave him to help him throughout his rookie season via Tania Ganguli of the LA Times:
“He didn’t treat me like a young player,” Russell said. “He treated me like that’s an excuse, being a young guy is an excuse, you can definitely attack it by being the best you can be at that age or the best you can be being a first-year player and stuff like that. So it was a different angle that I wanted to attack my first year and he helped me with it.”
Under first-year head coach Luke Walton it seems the Lakers have undergone a culture change as they are 2-1 in their first three preseason games. World Peace has played just six minutes in those three games, but Walton knows what he is capable of doing on the court as he was a teammate of his on the 2009-10 Lakers team that won an NBA Championship.
If World Peace finds a way to again make the Lakers roster those leadership qualities will again come in handy on this young roster. Of course if World Peace plans on reaching his goal of 20 years in the NBA, his play will also have to be good enough to warrant that roster spot.