I’ve been finding it difficult to write about sports lately. After fully investing myself in one of the most exciting basketball seasons in recent memory, the whiplash of that caused me to mostly ignore any & all sports stories.
As far as the NBA/NFL labor disputes go, I follow sports to be entertained and there’s simply nothing entertaining about greedy athletes and owners squabbling over who gets how much of the billions of dollars that we give them.
NHL free agency was a nice break from the monotony, but I’m pretty sure we’ve managed to build and burn every bridge we could on that topic here at DGWUSports.
I suppose I could start paying attention to baseball, but as I’ve said before, I don’t really believe anything matters before the All-Star break, so call me when the All-Star game is over. You know, the one where Derek Jeter counts as an All-Star.
But one man has managed to pierce his way through all this monotony and grab my interest level from the depths of indifference. That man is the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest.
Even if you’ve never bothered paying much attention to Ron, I mean, Mr. World Peace, surely one of his many stories is creeping into your mind. Obviously, first and foremost is the Malice in the Palace, a night that changed the NBA forever. Clearly there’s at least a hint of irony to the fact that the man who started the largest brawl in NBA history will have “PEACE” on the back of his jersey next season. But to me, that was simply an immature kid in the wrong place at the wrong time. How many people would’ve acted with a cool head if a beer had landed on their face from 20 rows back. Still, when you go back and watch that fight again, Ron actually stayed calmer than most of the people in the room that night.
I know more than a few of you are rolling your eyes, but I’m sure you’re smiling as you do it. This is the same man who admitted to regularly drinking Hennessey during halftime. The same man who applied for a job at Circuit City in the offseason and put “NBA player” as his last job. (He wanted the employee discount.) The same man who changed his jersey number to 37, because that’s how many weeks “Thriller” was #1 on the pop charts. Now he’s officially changing his name to Metta World Peace.
Sure this is a cheesy grab for attention and publicity. But at least he’s honest in doing so. He admits that he got the idea from Chad Ochocinco. He admits that he spent two years trying to come up with the perfect name change. And after deciding that World Peace would make up the last two thirds, he discovered the Buddhist word for friendship, loving and kindness. And yes, he admits that he is not Buddhist. In this case, for me, the why isn't nearly as important as the what. It might be cheesy, but at least it's positive. And what exactly isn’t to like about that? Too often and easily, we find ourselves looking cynically and skeptically at athletes and their actions. Since when don’t people like rooting for a guy who is trying to change his life for the better. I mean, of all the things kids could see on the back of his jersey, he could’ve done a lot worse than “World Peace”.
Ok, ok. So on the court I’ll admit he was a dog this past season, who mentally checked in and out at his discretion. His actions that night in Detroit were inexcusable, as were any illegal transgressions prior or since. He doesn’t last in any one situation for very long, because eventually people get tired of the show. (Unless you’re LA and you decide to sign him for $33 mil over 5 years. Oops.) But I’ll never begrudge a person for moving to the beat of their own drum. He’s not trying to be like anybody else. He’s not acting one way, then turning around and pretending to be someone else. And at least he’ll admit every time he’s asked that he was immature as a younger man and has no one to blame but himself. He sticks his flaws right in everyone’s face. Certainly he must be the only person in the history of sports to thank his therapist more than his family after winning a title.
So if you’re asking yourself, “Did the Apologist really just follow up a post about CM Punk with a post about how much he likes Ron Artest?”, yes, I certainly did just that. Too many engaging stories often get pushed aside so that we can spend more time talking about whether or not Roger Goodell & Demaurice Smith had lunch together. And while the tale of Metta World Peace might not be easy for many people to connect with, it has always been entertaining. Maybe he's an egomaniac. Maybe he's just crazy. But maybe, just maybe, he's just far more honest than anyone else we point a microphone at these days. And personally, I can't wait to see what he does next.