That is The Pandas Friend, better known as Metta World Peace or, as his parents named him, Ron Artest.
He was getting in some run at one of the best pickup spots in Los Angeles, Venice Beach, where they have a summer league.
And he wore a panda costume. Because of course he did, I mean he will play this season in China. I have no other comment.
Metta World Peace will be playing in China next season.
Actually, check that.
After teasing another name change on Twitter…
…World Peace – nee Ron Artest – has his new name.
China Daily (hat tip: Scott Rafferty of Hardwood Paroxysm):
New high-profile import playing for Chinese basketball Association club Sichuan Blue Whales is known as Ron Artest but intends to change his name to “Panda Friend” in honor of his move to China.
World Peace, who is known in China as “Ci Shiping”, a literal translation of “Metta World Peace,” now plans to name himself after China’s giant panda, a precious animal based in Southwest China’s Sichuan province, where his new team is also based.
Yes, The Pandas Friend sounds silly, but I think it’s important people have the right to be called what they want to be called. So, The Pandas Friend it is.
Considering he legally had his name changed to World Peace, I’m guessing he’ll do the same for The Pandas Friend.
I can’t wait to hear more about the adventures of Friend (not pictured) in China this season.
Does China really know what it’s getting here?
Former NBA All-Star and most recently Laker and Knicks player Metta World Peace has reached a deal to play in China next year, reports the official Chinese news site Sina, via the always on top of it Sportando.
The forward has reached an agreement in principle with Chinese team Sichuan Blue Whales. General Manager for Sichuan confirmed the agreement to Sports Sina. Metta World Peace will earn something close to $1.300.000.
World Peace basically confirmed that.
World Peace, 34, has seen his skill set decline, has some nagging injuries, and couldn’t really get on the floor for a pretty weak Knicks team last season. They agreed to waive him but no other team picked him up (the level of distraction was not worth the production on the court). He didn’t field any good offers this summer either.
In China he will still be a top flight player. On the court he should put up numbers and could get NBA teams to give him a second look (the Chinese season ends in February so he could sign for the rest of the NBA season).
Off the court… that is going to be interesting. Talk to players who go to China and they say the culture shock is the hardest part to deal with — the food is radically different, the entertainment is different, pretty much everything is different. World Peace is headed to the central heartland of the country, an agrarian area (although there are some very large cities as well). There is a high dropout rate of Western players who head to China, can’t deal and get out.
Some guys thrive, with Stephon Marbury being the poster child for that. He has a statue in Beijing now after leading the Ducks to a couple titles.
Metta World Peace played for the Knicks last season, or at least for a portion of it.
New York waived him in February, and while there were reports that the team may give him an invite to training camp given his ties to Phil Jackson, there apparently isn’t enough legitimate interest from teams to guarantee him a spot on an NBA roster next season.
World Peace has made it clear that he isn’t retiring, however, and playing overseas has emerged as a very real option.
From Ian Begley of ESPN New York:
Hearing: ex-Knick Metta World Peace is close to agreeing to terms with the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association.
World Peace still has the passion to play, as evidenced by his recent physical confrontation at a recreational league game in Venice. But if he can’t convince NBA teams that he still has something left, there’s money to be made elsewhere.
Another former Knicks player, Stephon Marbury, has had great success playing in in China since 2010, to the point where his team erected a statue of him in front of the arena.
It’s a long shot that World Peace could similarly impact his Chinese team’s fortunes, but it appears as though he’s at least considering the possibility of giving it a shot.
Metta World Peace has a reputation of being one of the game’s more physical players, as well as one who would never back down from a physical confrontation — infamously, of course, at one point in his career, which caused him to be suspended by the NBA for an entire season.
That was a long time ago, however visions of Ron Artest showed up at an outdoor league game over the weekend, when World Peace apparently had just about enough of the game’s physicality.
Somewhat ironically, World Peace seemed to welcome a street-ball style of play just the day before all this went down.
But at some point in this particular game, things took a turn and lines were crossed.
World Peace will continue to play, but wants to recruit some players who will have his back. So, in case you know anyone …
World Peace was waived by the Knicks in February, and is currently an unrestricted free agent.
[via For The Win]