Metta World Peace wants the blame if Lakers lose 2013 NBA title
Whenever the Lakers don’t win a championship, change takes place.
The front office makes trades. Fans assign blame to whoever they deem responsible. The cycle continues until the Lakers hoist another Larry O’Brien trophy.
The Lakers and their fans aren’t worried about that now. They’re too excited about having Dwight Howard, Steve Nashand a reasonable bench. Oh yeah, the Lakers have Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol too. But should the team fail to collect its 17th NBAchampionship in the 2012-13 season, the general public will find a scapegoat. And Metta World Peace says he wants the fingers pointed directly at him.
“If we don’t win, kick me in the L4 or L5 nerve. That’s right below your buttocks,” World Peace said at the Voice Awards Wednesday night at Paramount Studios where he was honored for his work with mental health charities. “You ever been kicked hard in the buttocks? Kick me right there.”
It’s unlikely anyone would literally accept that invitation. Many still remember when World Peace lost his cool last season and gave Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden a concussion with one elbow swing. There’s no telling how World Peace would react if someone actually kicked him.
But MWP’s general point seems well taken. The Lakers boast a star-studded lineup in Howard, Nash, Bryant and Gasol. That could leave World Peace with wide-open three-pointers, unless there just aren’t enough shots to go around on this team. Considering World Peace recorded a career-low 7.7 points on 39.4% shooting, it’s possible those numbers could plummet even more.
This isn’t the first time World Peace asked for public scrutiny if L.A. didn’t win a championship. Months after joining the Lakers with a five-year, $33-million deal, World Peace (then as Ron Artest) said at an appearance in San Diego that fans should blame him if the Lakers fail to win a second consecutive championship.
“They won last year, and I’m the new addition,” World Peace said at the time. “The fans expect to repeat. Everybody in L.A. expects a second ring. And if we don’t, then yeah, they should point it right at me, throwing tomatoes and everything.”
That didn’t happen. Instead, Laker fans wildly cheered him. World Peace’s 20 points on seven-of-18 shooting and five steals played a large part in the Lakers winning Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. Afterward, World Peace publicly thanked his psychologist.
That came full circle in a way on Wednesday considering his award for mental health charities partly stemmed from his Game 7 performance. Calling out his psychologist paved the way for World Peace to visit schools and hospitals, shoot various public service announcements and raffle off his championship ring to help the charities.
It remains to be seen whether MWP putting pressure on himself again could yield to the same breakout performance in the playoffs. Yet, it appears he’s taking the right steps toward doing that.
On July 18, I viewed one of his private workouts at UCLA where he looked in great shape performing various conditioning drills. At his appearance at the Voice Awards, World Peace’s face looked much thinner. He said he weighed 255 pounds, down markedly from the 268 pounds he weighed to open last year’s training camp. World Peace also credited the Lakers’ training staff for treating a nerve issue in his back, something that he believes attributed to his averaging 14.07 points per game in April.
“I’m ready to be a part of something special, definitely ready to play good ball,” World Peace said. “It’s not going to take me until April to be at that elite level.”
Aside from his customary role of defending the opposing team’s top player, it remains to be seen how World Peace will fit with the Lakers’ starting lineup of All-Stars. Nonetheless, MWP pegged the Lakers’ title hopes on a different variable.
“We can if we play together,” World Peace said. “We can have that many All-Stars.
If that doesn’t happen, blame World Peace. He’d want it that way.
Email the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow the Lakers blog on Twitter.
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.