When the Lakers traded Trevor Ariza for Ron Artest, I was with Bill Plaschke - against it. My argument: the Lakers had finally won a championship and Trevor played a pretty significant role in it. Numbers aside (though they were effective), he fit into his role and meshed with the team’s chemistry. He was younger. Ron was old. Basically, why try to fix something that wasn’t broke?
Since then, Ron-Ron has made me yell at my television, throw my fists in the air and pull my hair out, both with frustration and absolute joy (“Kobe passed me the ball! He passed me the ball!”). But he’s also made me laugh hysterically with his every stunt. Remember when he showed up to Jimmy Kimmel in just his boxers? And when he went clubbing in his uniform all weekend after winning the championship? If that isn’t style, I don’t know what is.
When Mr. Metta World Peace is nationally official, I hope that people can forget that at one point in his career, he was an angry man who went after a fan that threw a drink at him on the court. But I hope people remember that all he wants is his jersey to say “World Peace,” that he comes from a messed up place and consistently tries to fix himself, that he’s donated his money and time and heart to helping kids realize that where they come from doesn’t mean that’s where they’re going, and that it’s okay to laugh at the mistakes you’ve made.
While Artest is actually only onstage for a few minutes each set while introducing the three comedians in his tour, he begins the show by taking uncensored audience questions that end in self-deprecating answers.
Question: Can you teach a white dude to dunk?
Artest: “I can’t dunk anymore; I missed a layup in the playoffs.”
A funny thing happened to Ron Artest, columnist Bill Plaschke writes. First he changed his name, now he’s hosting a comedy tour.
“I changed my name because I got tired of Ron Artest, he’s a [expletive],” said Metta World Peace. “And when fans get mad at me, they can’t say, ‘I hate World Peace.’ “
Wanting to give World Peace a chance, I met the Lakers forward in his first public appearance since he petitioned to legally change his name earlier this summer. We shook hands and I called him Ron. I didn’t use his new first name because, frankly, I had no idea which part was his first name.
“World Peace is going on the back of my jersey, so Metta is my first name,” he said. “It’s Buddhist, but I’m Baptist.”
Photo: Artest made his comedy debut Friday night at the Improv Hollywood. Credit: Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times
(Source: Los Angeles Times)