Metta World Peace (born Ronald William Artest, Jr. on November 13, 1979) is an American professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was known as Ron Artest before legally changing his name in September 2011.
World Peace gained a reputation as one of the league's premier defenders as he won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2004, when he was also named an NBA All-Star and earned All-NBA honors. He was a participant in several controversial on-court incidents, most notably the Malice at the Palace, and is known for his sometimes eccentric and outspoken behavior. He won an NBA championship in 2010 as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Metta World Peace was born Ronald William Artest, Jr., and raised in the Queensbridge projects in Queens, New York. He has two younger brothers, Isaiah and Daniel. He played high school basketball at La Salle Academy.
Artest played college basketball at St. John's University from 1997 to 1999. At St. John's, he majored in mathematics. In 1999, he led the Red Storm to a 14-4 record in the Big East Conference and 28-9 overall and the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division I Tournament, losing to Ohio State.
Artest gained fame playing in some of New York City's high profile summer basketball tournaments at Nike Pro City, Hoops in the Sun at Orchard Beach, Bronx, New York and Dyckman Park at Washington Heights, earning himself nicknames such as Tru Warier and The New World Order, a name he received from Randy Cruz (one of the co-founders of the Hoops In The Sun basketball league at Orchard Beach in the Bronx, New York).
Growing up, Artest witnessed the death of a fellow player on a basketball court in Niagara Falls, New York. "It was so competitive, they broke a leg from a table and they threw it, it went right through his heart and he died right on the court. So I'm accustomed to playing basketball really rough." The player to whom Artest was referring was 19-year-old Lloyd Newton, who was stabbed in the back with a broken-off table leg during an altercation at a 1991 YMCA-sanctioned basketball tournament.
Chicago Bulls (1999–2002)
Artest played a total of 175 games for the Bulls over 2-1/2 years, the bulk as a starter, during which time he averaged about 12.5 points and just over 4 rebounds per game. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team in the 1999–2000 season.
Midway through the 2001–02 season, Artest was traded by Chicago to the Indiana Pacers along with Ron Mercer, Brad Miller, and Kevin Ollie, in exchange for Jalen Rose, Travis Best, Norman Richardson, and a 2nd round draft pick.
Indiana Pacers (2002–2006)
During the 2003–04 season with the Pacers, he averaged 18.3 points per game, 5.7 rebounds per game, and 3.7 assists per game. Artest made the 2004 NBA All-Star Game as a reserve and was named the Defensive Player of the Year. He wore three jersey numbers for the Pacers: 15, 23 and 91.
On November 19, 2004, Artest was at the center of an altercation among players and fans during a game in Auburn Hills, Michigan, between Artest's Pacers and the home team Detroit Pistons. The brawl involved Artest, Pistons center Ben Wallace, Artest's teammates Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson, several other players, and spectators including Pistons fans John Green and A. J. Shackleford.
The fight resulted in the game being stopped with less than a minute remaining. Jermaine O'Neal, Jackson and Wallace were suspended indefinitely the day after the game. A day later, the NBA suspended Artest for the rest of the regular season, plus any playoff games. Artest missed 86 games, the longest suspension for an on-court incident in NBA history.
Aftermath and trade
Early in the 2005–06 season, Artest requested a trade from the Indiana Pacers and was put on the team's inactive roster. Artest's call for a trade created a rift between him and his teammates. "We felt betrayed, a little disrespected," teammate Jermaine O'Neal said. As for their basketball relationship, O'Neal said: "The business relationship is over. That's fact." Pacers president Larry Bird said he also felt "betrayed" and "disappointed".
On January 24, 2006, reports from NBA sources confirmed that the Sacramento Kings had agreed to trade Peja Stojaković to the Pacers for Artest. However, before the trade could be completed, many press outlets reported that Artest had informed team management that he did not want to go to Sacramento. According to Artest's agent, his original trade request was only made because he was upset when he heard rumors that the Pacers were going to trade him to Sacramento for Stojaković early in the season. While not denying his agent's story, Artest did deny that he had rejected the trade to Sacramento, saying that he would play anywhere; hence, contradicting earlier press accounts stating Artest was holding up the trade. Given conflicting accounts, it is unclear why the trade was delayed, but it was nevertheless completed on January 25 and Artest was officially sent to the Kings for Stojaković.
Sacramento Kings (2006–2008)
Though traded midseason to the Kings franchise, Artest quickly found his place on the team by providing some much needed defense. Though many feared his abrasive personality would be a problem, he worked well with his teammates and then-coach Rick Adelman. Artest wore #93 for his jersey number with the Kings. After acquiring Artest in late January 2006, the team immediately went on a 14–5 run, the team's best run of the season. The Kings broke .500 and landed the eighth spot in the Western Conference. This prompted ESPN to declare that "Ron Artest has breathed new life in the Sacramento Kings and enhanced their chances of reaching the playoffs for the ninth straight year." Fox Sports proclaimed, "Artest has Kings back in playoff hunt."
He was suspended for Game 2 of the team's first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs following a flagrant foul (elbow to the head) on Manu Ginóbili. The Kings eventually were eliminated from the playoffs in six games.
After the playoffs, Artest offered to donate his entire salary to keep teammate Bonzi Wells with the team, who became a free agent after the 2005–06 NBA season. He even jokingly threatened to kill Wells if he did not re-sign with the Kings. Wells was later picked up by the Houston Rockets and then traded to the New Orleans Hornets for former Sacramento Kings player Bobby Jackson. Artest also offered to donate his salary to retain the services of head coach Rick Adelman, whose contract expired after the same season. Adelman and the Kings did not agree on a contract extension so the two parted ways.
Houston Rockets (2008–2009)
On July 29, 2008, it was reported that Artest was to be traded to the Houston Rockets along with Patrick Ewing, Jr. and Sean Singletary for Bobby Jackson, recently drafted forward Donté Greene, a 2009 first-round draft pick, and cash considerations. The deal was made official on August 14, due to Greene's rookie contract signing on July 14. In response to the trade, Yao Ming was generally positive, but jokingly said that "hopefully he's not fighting anymore and going after a guy in the stands." In response, Artest said, "This is Tracy (McGrady) and Yao's team, you know. I'm not going to take it personal. I understand what Yao said, but I'm still ghetto. That's not going to change. I'm never going to change my culture. Yao has played with a lot of black players, but I don't think he's ever played with a black player that really represents his culture as much as I represent my culture."
Artest and Yao later exchanged extensive phone calls. Artest also said, "Whatever Adelman needs me to do, whether that's come off the bench, sixth, seventh man, start, I don't even care. Whatever he needs me to do, I'm 100 percent sure it's going to work out."
On October 30, 2008, Artest received his first technical as a Houston Rocket, as he raced towards a group of Dallas Mavericks players and then quickly went to Yao Ming who bumped Josh Howard after play stopped. Artest was trying to pull Yao away from the play and to the foul line, but contact was made with Maverick players. The TNT broadcast crew felt this technical was not warranted, and was based upon Artest's prior reputation as a feisty player in the league. In the playoffs, Artest helped the Rockets advance past the first round for the first time in 12 seasons. In Game 2 of the second round against the Los Angeles Lakers, Artest, who was battling for rebounding position with Kobe Bryant, was elbowed in the neck by Bryant, which was later ruled to be a Type 1 flagrant foul. After being called for an offensive foul, Artest was indignant and proceeded to antagonize Bryant after the play, which eventually led to an ejection by Joe Crawford. In Game 3, Artest was again ejected in the fourth quarter after a hard foul on Pau Gasol, who was attempting to dunk on a fast-break. It was determined the next day that the foul was not serious enough to warrant an ejection, and the flagrant foul was downgraded.
Los Angeles Lakers (2009–2013)
In July 2009, the Los Angeles Lakers signed Artest to a five-year deal worth about $33 million. Artest chose the number 37 jersey, which he said was in honor of Michael Jackson. Jackson's Thriller album was at No. 1 on the charts for 37 straight weeks.
In Game 5 of the 2010 Western Conference Finals, Artest hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer after grabbing a last second offensive rebound. He scored 25 points against the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 and went to the NBA Finals for the first time in his career. In the finals, the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics, four games to three. Artest scored 20 points in the clincher and sank the team's last field goal – a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter – to virtually seal the victory. Afterwards, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson called Artest the most valuable player of Game 7 against the Celtics. He won his first championship ring with the Lakers.
For the 2010–2011 season, Artest switched back to number 15, his college number at St. John’s and the first number he wore in his NBA career.
On April 26, 2011, Artest won the NBA's J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Artest during the offseason. He came into training camp for the 2011–12 season out of shape. Consequently, new Lakers coach Mike Brown moved World Peace to a reserve role with reduced playing time. World Peace lamented that Brown's coaching style placed too much emphasis on statistics.
On April 22, 2012, in a game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, World Peace elbowed James Harden in the head as he was celebrating a dunk. He received a flagrant foul 2 and was immediately ejected. Harden stayed on the floor for several minutes and left the game for evaluation. Harden was later found to have suffered a concussion. After the game, World Peace apologized in front of reporters, stating that the elbow was "unintentional." On April 24, 2012, World Peace was suspended for seven games, meaning he would miss the Lakers' season finale game against the Sacramento Kings as well as the first few games of the playoffs.
After a 1–4 start to the 2012–13 season, the Lakers fired Brown as head coach and hired Mike D'Antoni. On December 18, 2012, in a win against the Philadelphia 76ers, he grabbed a career high 16 rebounds to add to his 19 points. On January 11, 2013, he suffered a right leg injury against the Thunder that would hamper him for two months. Around the same time, he also had an injury to his right arm that made it difficult to bend. His health worsened to the point where D'Antoni moved him off the perimeter on defense and had him guard power forwards instead. By mid-March, he was able to guard the perimeter again. On March 25, against the Golden State Warriors, World Peace tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee. He underwent surgery that was originally estimated to sideline him for six weeks. Despite the estimates, he returned 12 days after his surgery. In his absence, D'Antoni was using a reduced seven-man rotation with Kobe Bryant playing close to all 48 minutes each game. World Peace wanted to reduce his teammates' workload, if even for a few minutes, as the Lakers fought to qualify for the playoffs. The Lakers qualified for the playoffs as the seventh seed, but were swept 4–0 by San Antonio in the first round. Due to the Lakers' other injuries, World Peace played in Game 3 in spite of running with discomfort after having fluid drained from a cyst behind his surgically repaired left knee. He missed the final game of the series, and later admitted he came back too soon. For the season, he averaged his most points (12.4) since 2008-09, and shot his highest percentage (.404) since 2009-10. Still, ESPN wrote those numbers indicated that "the 33-year-old is clearly on the decline".
New York Knicks (2013–2014)
On July 16, 2013, World Peace signed a two-year deal with the New York Knicks. On February 24, 2014, he was waived by the Knicks after they bought out his contract.
China and Italy (2014–2015)
On August 4, 2014, World Peace signed with the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association. Due to a recurrent knee injury, he was replaced on the roster in December 2014 with Daniel Orton. In 15 games, World Peace averaged 19 points, 6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.
On March 24, 2015, World Peace signed with Pallacanestro Cantù of Italy for the rest of the 2014–15 Lega Basket Serie A season. On May 27, 2015, in Cantù's Game 5 quarter-final loss to Reyer Venezia Mestre which ended their season, World Peace was ejected from the game and charged with five fouls after getting involved in a skirmish during the fourth quarter. In July 2015, he parted ways with the club after the two parties could not come to a new contract agreement.
Return to the Lakers (2015–present)
On September 24, 2015, World Peace signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, returning to the franchise for a second stint. On November 6, he made his season debut in a 104–98 win over the Brooklyn Nets, playing 17 minutes with a plus-minus of 12. Teammate Kobe Bryant praised him for his impact on "everybody on the floor defensively".
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|†||Denotes seasons in which World Peace won an NBA championship|
On December 18, 2010, an art show honoring Artest was held in Toronto, Canada. Entitled Lovable Badass, the show featured work by 30 Canadian and American artists, illustrators, painters and sculptors inspired by the athlete. Artest made a surprise appearance at the exhibition's opening night, commenting that “(the show) was definitely special. It was unexpected. Overwhelming.”
Artest Media Group
World Peace is the founder of the Artest Media Group. Established in 2010, the brand management company's clients include himself and music artists Vinita, Deacon, Sade Artest, Rugby, and Emmaline Cleary. Music producers Wip, Q, and Lucky are also associated with the group. On February 19, 2013, World Peace was awoken by a squad of police who received a tip there had been gun play within his property. Authorities were quick to recognize their mistake after World Peace explained that the armed individuals were actors shooting a "life on the streets"-styled movie for his group.
On October 31, 2006, Artest released a rap album entitled My World. He published the album on the Lightyear Records label under his own imprint, Tru Warier Records. The album features guest artists P. Diddy, Juvenile, Mike Jones, Big Kap, Nature and Capone.
He has become involved in advocacy relating to mental health issues. In December 2010, he announced that he would donate some or all of his salary for the 2011–12 NBA season toward mental health awareness charities. Artest also auctioned off his 2009–10 championship ring and donated the proceeds to various mental health charities nationwide. In 2016, he told Sports Illustrated, "Some people don’t understand mental health is broad. You have to ask questions. Are you depressed? Are you schizophrenic? Do you have anxiety? Are you bipolar? Those are the different things that come under the banner of mental health."
He has posed for PETA ad campaigns encouraging people to report animal abuse and to have their pets fixed.
Disciplinary and legal issues
Early career incidents
During his rookie season in Chicago, he was criticized for applying for a job at Circuit City in order to get an employee discount. In a December 2009 Sporting News interview, Artest admitted that he had led a "wild" lifestyle as a young player, and that he drank Hennessy cognac in the locker room at halftime while with the Bulls. In February 2004, he wore a bathrobe over his practice uniform to a Pacers practice as "a symbolic reminder to take it easy".
Artest was suspended for three games in 2003 for destroying a TV camera at Madison Square Garden, and for four games the same year for a confrontation with Miami Heat coach Pat Riley. He was also suspended for two games early in the 2004–05 season by Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle after he allegedly asked for a month off because he was tired from promoting an R&B album for the group Allure on his Tru Warier production label, on which he released his own album, a rap recording titled My World, in October 2006.
The brawl began when Artest fouled Pistons center Ben Wallace as Wallace was putting up a shot. Wallace, upset at being fouled hard when the game was effectively over (the Pacers led 97–82 with less than 50 seconds to go), responded by shoving Artest, leading to an altercation near the scorer's table. Artest walked to the sideline and lay down on the scorer's table. Reacting to Wallace throwing something at Artest, Pistons fan John Green threw a cup of Diet Coke at Artest, hitting him. Artest jumped into the front-row seats and confronted a man he incorrectly believed to be responsible, which in turn erupted into a brawl between Pistons fans and several of the Pacers. Artest returned to the basketball court, and punched Pistons fan A.J. Shackleford, who was apparently taunting Artest verbally. This fight resulted in the game being stopped with less than a minute remaining. Artest's teammates Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson were suspended indefinitely the day after the game, along with Wallace.
On November 21, the NBA suspended Artest for the rest of the regular season, plus any playoff games. All told, Artest missed 86 games (73 regular season games plus 13 playoff games), the longest suspension for an on-court incident in NBA history. Eight other players (four Pacers and four Pistons) received suspensions, without pay, which ranged from one to thirty games in length. Each of the players involved were levied fines and ordered to do community service. Several fans were also charged and were banned from attending Pistons games for life. Artest lost approximately $5 million in salary due to the suspension.
On March 5, 2007, Artest was arrested for domestic violence, and excused from the Sacramento Kings indefinitely by GM Geoff Petrie. On March 10, Kings announced that Artest would return to the team, while his case was being reviewed by the Placer County District Attorney. On May 3, he was sentenced to 20 days in jail and community service. Artest spent only 10 days in the jail, as the judge stayed 10 days of the sentence, and served the remainder in a work release program. On July 14, 2007, the NBA suspended Artest for seven games at the beginning of the 2007–08 NBA season for his legal problems.
On September 16, 2011, Artest's name was officially changed to Metta World Peace. "Metta" is his first name, and "World Peace" is his surname. "Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world," World Peace said in a statement released after the name change court hearing. His publicist, Courtney Barnes, said that World Peace chose Metta as his first name because it is a traditional Buddhist word that means loving kindness and friendliness towards all.
World Peace and Kimsha Artest (née Hatfield) were married for 6 years. Kimsha was a cast member on VH1's reality TV show Basketball Wives: LA. The two have three children together: Sadie, Ron III, and Diamond. Kimsha and World Peace, who was still named Ron Artest at the time, married in June 2003 and divorced in 2009. World Peace has another son, Jeron, with his former high school girlfriend Jennifer Palma.