The Los Angeles Lakers roster looked drastically different for the 2016-17 NBA season. Though the young core remained intact, Kobe Bryant’s absence from the roster was more than a notable change. However, Metta World Peace retained his spot on the roster in what seemed to be unlikely circumstances.
After potentially his final game in a Lakers uniform at Staples Center, World Peace shared a conversation between former general manager Mitch Kupchak and himself. According to Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times, Kupchak gave World Peace slim odds of making the team:
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) April 12, 2017
World Peace, 37, is the same age as Lakers head coach Luke Walton — whom he played with from 2009-12 — and is still in relatively good shape. He has expressed his desire to continue to play basketball after this season — whether it is with the Lakers or elsewhere.
World Peace joined the Lakers in 2009 and won his first and only NBA championship, hitting a clutch three-pointer in Game 7 against the Boston Celtics. After the Game 7 thriller, World Peace gave one of the greatest post-game interviews of all-time where he repeatedly thanked his psychiatrist.
Gone are the days where the player formerly known as Ron Artest would get ejected from games and infamously engage in a brawl with the fans. Artest changed his name to Metta World Peace after his first championship and completely re-branded himself.
World Peace transformed from a physical player with a hot temper to one of the calmest and well-respected leaders in the locker room. Lockdown defense was his signature and he will be regarded as one of the greatest perimeter defenders of all-time when it is all said and done.
The Lakers sent off World Peace into the sunset with an 18-point performance and a standing ovation accompanied by “Metta” chants in his last home game.