The man we knew as Ron Artest was a player who never backed down from the challenge of another player. He has tangled with the likes of Paul Pierce and LeBron James and even lesser-known guys like J.J. Barea.
However, say what you must, it was that mental toughness that instilled a sense of fear into opposing teams. Artest’s presence allowed for the Lakers to better contain star players on opposing teams.
Artest played in every game in 2011, but saw his scoring average fall to 8.5 points per game. That can be attributed to the sharp drop in his field goal percentage, which plunged to 39% That is just a tad bit over two percentage points under his career average. It is also the lowest field-goal percentage he’s had since his first season with Sacramento in 2005-06.
What does Metta World Peace hold in store for the fans? Will he provide a different persona from that of Ron Artest? Not likely. Did Chad Johnson become somebody different when he became Chad Ochocinco?
Metta World Peace is 31 years old and will play for a Laker team that is championship-ready. World Peace also has a new coach who is a defensive specialist. That can only work out in his favor.
However, if not, World Peace can take a back seat to the usually reliable Lamar Odom, who has been outstanding as the Lakers’ sixth-man. World Peace will be a tremendous defensive presence for the Lakers, who will continue to use him to stop superstars such as Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
So can we expect any further changes? Perhaps World Peace will change for the better. After all, Metta is a Buddhist term meaning: a strong wish for the happiness of others.
Hopefully this strong wish for happiness is for others such as Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher and the rest of the 2011-12 Los Angeles Lakers organization.