Metta World Peace is still on an NBA roster. The Lakers kept him mostly not because of what he can do on the court; rather he’s the guy that pushes the team in practices, the hard-driving guy that doesn’t let the young players coast.
That’s why the past two season’s they’ve offered him an assistant coaching job. Each time he turned it down because he still wants to play, he loves basketball. Don’t believe me? Watch what he says when he makes a free throw.
World Peace isn’t the kind of guy with regrets. But in an open and honest interview with Baxter Holmes of ESPN, World Peace does regret how his tenure with the Pacers came to an end — the “Malice at the Palace” brawl that led to his suspension and ultimately the end of an excellent Pacers team that could have contended.
“That’s what I feel most bad about to this day,” World Peace told ESPN. “That’s something that I can never, ever forgive myself for. I don’t regret it, but I definitely can’t forgive myself for that…
(Then Pacers president Donnie) Walsh had constructed “a hell of a team,” World Peace said. And World Peace was playing alongside Pacers legend Reggie Miller, who was chasing a title during the twilight of a storied career. “I just feel like we were on our way,” said World Peace, who was coming off an All-Star season and was averaging 24.6 points in seven games leading up to the brawl. Yet he said he was at his most “unstable” point, and he blames himself for the team’s decline.
“So for me, that’s really, really f—-d up,” World Peace said.
World Peace has matured over the years. This is evidence, as is his speaking publicly about seeing a psychologist and working on issues — something considered taboo in the macho world of sports locker rooms.
He’s in his 17th NBA season, and while he wants to make it to 20 more likely this is the last tour for him.
But he’d make an interesting coach.