One of Metta World Peace‘s best features — and one that gets him into occasional trouble — is that he’s open and does not hold back. “Filter” is not a word often used with him.
He has been especially open — and brave — in discussing his challenges with mental illness. He has sacrificed to bring attention to the issue. And he’s not stopping now.
The Laker forward went on the Free Association podcast at Sportsnet and talked openly about how the famed “Malice at the Palace” brawl sent him into a depression, plus he discussed the mistakes of his early years in the league.
“It took me awhile [to recover], man. When I had the brawl I went into a real depression. I had been in really good shape. I was an all-star the year prior, and I probably had more all-star years ahead of me in the East. I was 245-250 lbs and feeling good. After the brawl I got up to 275 lbs—quickly. I was ready to retire….
When I returned the following year [after the brawl] in Indiana I was causing problems in the locker room, and eventually I requested a trade. So Larry traded me to the Kings. When I got to Sacramento I told Rick Adleman, “Look I don’t think I can give you anything.” He said “Ron, we’re going to go as far as you can take us.” I immediately went to the media and told them “We’re going to make the playoffs.” Everybody laughed. We were in last place. But we made it to the playoffs, and almost beat the Spurs that year. Rick Adleman changed my life. But it took awhile. I was still destructive and unstable. But I was getting better and better.
We all look back at our youth and cringe a little. Or more than a little. But the errors of my 20s were not broadcast to the world and dissected by millions of people who don’t know me. World Peace lived in a different world.
Credit to World Peace for recognizing his past, and making all of this a topic that can be discussed as a learning opportunity, not just a black-eye for the league.
This much we know: Kobe Bryant will suit up and play Friday night when the Lakers face the Toronto Raptors. The team confirmed this at their morning shootaround.
But thinking past today with Kobe is not wise — he’s trying to enjoy this season and live in the moment. Because unless something changes, this will be his final season.
That includes the occasionally floated idea of Bryant playing a season in Italy or China after walking away from the NBA, a chance to spread his brand overseas. Kobe told Marc Stein of ESPN not to expect an overseas encore.
What does seem clear, though, is that the oft-floated idea of Kobe playing in, say, Italy for a season after leaving the NBA is not in his thinking at the moment. In a brief chat after his recent Dallas visit, Bryant told me that, at this point, he doesn’t have plans to play abroad when he finally sheds the purple and gold, be it after this season or beyond.
While Nike might love the idea of a season overseas, and it might be good for his brand, it is not good for Kobe. Probably not his body. More importantly, for a person incredibly dedicated to his family and his young daughters, the idea of either being away from them for a full season, or uprooting the family for a year, are unappealing.
If you’re a fan of the game of basketball, you should try to savor the good moments with Bryant this season, celebrate one of the all-time great careers, and then applaud him as he walks out the door. My most fervent hope is at the end of the season he can still walk out that door and leave on his own terms.
If you want to play connect the dots between Kings’ owner Vivek Ranadive and his reported interest in John Calipari, you can do it. Ranadive wants to make a splash when his team enters a new arena in downtown Sacramento next season; the Kings’ coaching/front office situations have had bumps in the road; his star player DeMarcus Cousins played for Calipari at Kentucky (as did the just-drafted Willie Cauley-Stein); heck, Ranadive even brought Drake (someone else with ties to Calipari) through the Kings’ locker room recently. Reports have circulated that Ranadive will make a run at Calipari next summer.
Don’t bet on it happening.
A league source with knowledge of the situation insists to ProBasketballTalk there is no validity to the claims the Kings will make a huge offer to Calipari next summer.
Whether Calipari wants to leave Kentucky is another question entirely. He may be happy just to leverage the rumors into another raise, then stay where he is king.
As for the Kings, Calipari is not someone the organization has discussed. Remember that both coach George Karl and GM Vlade Divac were hired in part because they brought business interests to the table — there were bumps in ticket sales when both were hired. Karl plays the kind of entertaining, up-tempo style that helps sell tickets (and that Ranadive wants to see). Vlade Divac is the defacto GM and a Kings’ legend as a player. Ranadive saw them as guys who could help move this team into the new building next fall.
But ultimately wins sell tickets, which is where the 4-9 Kings have struggled this season. Part of that is Cousins missing five games (four to injury, one to suspension). The team doesn’t win without him. A bigger part of the slow start is that the defense has struggled. The Kings entered the season thinking playoffs and now have a hole to dig out of to get there. If they miss the postseason again changes are not out of the question, and Ranadive can be unpredictable.
Just don’t bet on any change being a run at Calipari.
The script-style NBA Christmas Day jerseys this year are tight.
And the NBA did a good job with this new ad promoting that you can now buy them at the NBA Store online. Anthony Davis, Joakim Noah, James Harden (saying he chose team ball?), Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan, and Kawhi Leonard all tell Santa they have been good and deserve the jerseys.
In case you forgot, the NBA Christmas Day lineup is a gift in and of itself for fans:
- 12:00 pm ET New Orleans Pelicans vs. Miami Heat (ESPN)
- 2:30 pm Chicago Bulls vs. OKC Thunder (ABC)
- 5:00 pm Cleveland Cavs vs. Golden State Warriors (ABC)
- 8:00 pm San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets (ESPN)
- 10:30 pm L.A. Clippers vs. LA Lakers (ESPN)
The Sacramento Kings lost this game — they were without the suspended DeMarcus Cousins, and if he doesn’t play the Kings’ lose. It’s a law of nature, like gravity.
But Rajon Rondo is dealing. He was one rebound short of his fifth triple-double in seven games, and he dished out 18 assists in the loss to Miami. It was an impressive night, so we’re bringing you his passes.
After the game, Rondo credited Goerge Karl for his revived play this season — he said Karl is giving him the freedom to play his game. Now all they need are some wins to show for it.