I was looking at the roster of the Los Angeles Lakers a several years ago and noticed a player by the name of Metta World Peace.
First of all, I love this name. Metta means love. Metta meditation is one type of meditation you can do according to the Buddhist tradition. You basically try to radiate loving kindness to all living beings on this planet of ours.
I did a little bit of research on the internet and found out who Metta World Peace is. I expected him to be a little known player who was probably drafted late in the fifth round. I imagined him as an African player whose father was probably an exchange student who met his mother in Tibet. Turns out Metta World Peace is Ron Artest. Or should I say the NBA player formerly known as Ron Artest. He was known as Ron Artest before legally changing his name to Metta World Peace in 2011 and later to Metta Sandiford-Artest in May 2020.
Metta Sandiford-Artest (MSA) actually occupies a notorious spot in the annals of NBA history. Before I go on about his notoriety, I will first recognize that MSA was a really good basketball player. OK back to his notoriety. On November 19, 2004, Artest was at the center of an altercation among players and fans during a game in Auburn Hills, Michigan between Artest’s Pacers and the home team Detroit Pistons.
The brawl began when Artest fouled Pistons center Ben Wallace. Wallace, upset at being fouled hard when the game was effectively over, responded by shoving Artest, leading to an altercation near the scorer’s table. Artest walked to the sideline and lay down on the scorer’s table. Reacting to Wallace throwing something at Artest, Pistons fan John Green threw a cup of Diet Coke at Artest, hitting him. Artest jumped into the front-row seats and confronted a man he incorrectly believed to be responsible, which in turn erupted into a brawl between Pistons fans and several of the Pacers. Artest returned to the basketball court, and punched Pistons fan A.J. Shackleford, who was apparently taunting Artest verbally. This fight resulted in the game being stopped with less than a minute remaining. Artest’s teammates Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson were suspended indefinitely the day after the game, along with Wallace.
On November 21, the NBA suspended Artest for the rest of the regular season, plus any playoff games. All told, Artest missed 86 games, the longest suspension for an on-court incident in NBA history.
Click here to watch the entire incident on Youtube.
I will admit that the first thing that I think of when I think of MSA is not his many game winning shots or his great dunks. Instead I think of this incident.
I would love to meet MSA and ask him about his reasons for changing his name to Metta World Peace. MSA, if you are reading this, please contact me and we can do a Zoom session. If you are worried about attracting unwanted publicity, don’t worry. It will be a private session and I will not divulge any information to the general public unless you want me to.
I will admit that I never paid any attention to the third Caucasian sprinter in the above photo. He is Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter who won the silver medal in the 200 meters sprint event at the 1968 Olympics. I never noticed that he wore a button promoting the Olympic Project for Human Rights campaign.
He paid a heavy price for wearing that button. According to published reports, Norman was left off Australia’s team in the 1972 Olympics in Munich despite running times that would have qualified him. He was also left out of any role in the 2000 Sydney Games.
In 2012, Australia formally apologized to Norman, with one MP telling Parliament that Norman’s gesture “was a moment of heroism and humility that advanced international awareness for racial inequality.”
All information for this post gathered from this article published by the Toronto Star.
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