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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. He was a participant in several controversial on-court incidents, most notably the Pacers–Pistons brawn and is known for his sometimes eccentric and outspoken behavior.
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 and college basketball at St. John's University from 1997–1999. At St. John's, he majored in mathematics. In 1999, he helped the Red Storm to the Elite Eight, 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).
As a teenager, Artest was teamed with future NBA players Elton Brand and Lamar Odom on the same Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) team.
Growing up in a rough neighborhood, Artest witnessed the death of a fellow player on a basketball court. "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 was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th pick of the 1999 NBA Draft.
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.
Main article: Pacers–Pistons brawl 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 fan John Green and Pistons fan 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 Stojakovic 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 Ginobili. 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, J. 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–present)
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 changed his name to Metta World Peace 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, claiming 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 replaced him with 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. Things got so bad, 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 average 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".