In all my time of being a fan and writing about the Lakers, few players have shifted my view of them more than Metta World Peace. I remember when he — then known as Ron Artest — originally signed by the team, I had my doubts about how he’d fit in, how focused he’d be, whether he could acclimate to being an ancillary piece rather than a frontline player he’d been for most his career. I wasn’t alone, either.
Ron-Ron won me over, though. With his all out play every night. With his straightforward nature and honesty. With his tough nosed defense. With his deference to the team’s established players. Then, with the shot. And the post-game presser. He became immortalized to me and he will live on in Lakers lore forever. He wasn’t the perfect player and offered frustrations that most every player does in their own way. But he was ours. The guy who loved being a Laker and did what he could to help the team, regardless of role assigned or his minutes played.
That trend, it seems, is now continuing into his post playing days after being named as a player development coach for the team’s G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.
Metta World Peace has a new job. He’s a player-development coach for the Lakers G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) October 23, 2017
Metta taking on this role might seem like a leap, but the hints have been there for a while now.
Rick Carlisle said Ronnie (he refuses to call him Metta World Peace) still texts him every 6-8 weeks to talk about coaching.
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 9, 2016
Metta’s last two years with the Lakers as a player somewhat foreshadowed this as well. While some would have preferred he not make the team and occupy a roster spot, both Byron Scott and Luke Walton saw the value add of having Metta serve in a half-player, half-coach type of role that gave him the ear of the players as a teammate but the interaction with them in practices, the film room, and the bench that would align more with what a coach would provide.
Now it seems he’ll be doing the latter full time. And good on him.
Every coach starts somewhere and Metta doing so on the player development side, where he can teach and assist in technique and skill building might suit him better than people are likely to give him credit for. Ron’s tenacity as a player and some of his more renowned exploits (both on and off the court), probably overshadow his intelligence as a player — especially as it related to defense. Sometimes it’s easy to equate success on that end of the floor to only being about instincts or playing hard and not to technique and/or an understanding of what offenses and individual players are trying to do to attack you.
I think Metta has insights to offer on this front, as well as other aspects of the game. And, like he did as a player, I hope he surprises those who have doubts about him and finds his way to success.