Metta World Peace

...Formerly known as basketball player Ron Artest.

He officially got his name changed today, which means that the back of his jersey, which on the Lakers jersey usually is emblazoned a player's last name we'd read "World Peace" instead of "Artest."

Quite the message to imbue in our mindsets as we watch games, I like it.

From the LA Times:

Anyone now making his acquaintance will be meeting Metta World Peace. Those on a first-name basis can call him Metta, while those a little further removed can buy jerseys with his last name of World Peace stretched across the back.

World Peace's publicist, Courtney Barnes, said his client had been contemplating the switch for years, "but it took many years of research and soul-searching to find a first name that was both personally meaningful and inspirational." Metta is a Buddhist term that means loving kindness and friendliness toward others.

I first heard of Metta World Peace as Ron Artest from the college St. John's. He was a wacky player, but I knew I was a big fan already. Then, the post-Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls drafted him, and he became a favorite player of mine, even in the days when this team was winning 15 games.

He established himself as a tough defender, a bit of a Kobe stopper. He sort of become known as the guy who broke Michael Jordan's ribs.

I was pretty sad when we traded him.

Then it started to seep out to the world that he was quite talented. He became established in the playoffs and his defensive prowess was something seen by more people.

It also started to seep out to the world that he was kind of crazy. There was a story that as a rookie he applied to Circuit City to get an employee discount. He apparently used to drink hennessy during halftime at Bulls game.

Then it almost became an established fact that he was crazy: he became known for his role in a brawl during a game in Detroit.

He was suspended an entire season without pay, which I thought was harsh. He was dismissed as a malcontent, a crazy, a label I didn't really like, cause I'd followed him for a while.

No matter, in retrospect.

He's slowly but surely built up his reputation again, first in Sacramento, then in Houston, and now as the infectiously happy championship-winning Los Angeles Laker.

And now World Peace.

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