Metta World Peace has a lot of stories. Great stories.
Like how he wanted to be a math teacher growing up in Queensbridge.
“I loved the solutions, I loved just numbers, and putting things together,” World Peace said.
He’s got stories from college — like the time he was offered $35,000 to throw a game. He’s got stories from his NBA life. He’s got stories about what it was like when he came out talking about mental illness publicly. He’s got stories from stints on “Big Brother” and “Dancing with the Stars.” He tells a lot of them in his new book that hit the shelves this week,No Malice: My Life in Basketball or: How a Kid from Queensbridge Survived the Streets, the Brawls, and Himself to Become an NBA Champion
And then there was the time he cracked Michael Jordan’s ribs in a game.
“I mean, that was a mistake,” World Peace admitted to NBC Sports. “I didn’t even know I did it until the next day. Then Michael Jordan called and said ‘don’t worry about it, everything’s going to be okay,’ because I was a little bit shaken. That was my favorite player. And I didn’t want that kind of media attention around me at the time.”
It happened in a summer pickup game in 2001, as World Peace tells it. At the time the then Ron Artest was playing for the Chicago Bulls, and Jordan was gearing up for his comeback with the Wizards. This was an early summer pick-up game, the kind of thing that happens between elite players as they try to hone their skills in the offseason. Even LeBron dropped in on these games — while he was still in high school.
“Me and Michael Jordan was playing hard, it was summertime ball, and LeBron (James) was actually there, he was 15-or-16 years old [Ed. note: He was 16] — yea, he was keeping up, he was one of the best players there at that age — it was those days, it was just rough, rough basketball. But I think one of the reasons Michael Jordan came back and was playing so well was I was guarding him every single day, and I wasn’t playing around, you know? Maybe I helped him out a little bit…
“After I break his ribs he comes down, he’s holding his ribs a little bit, then he hits the game-winner on me. Then he walks off the floor, then he’s out for a couple of months.”
And the legend of Michael Jordan grows a little bit more.
Metta World Peace is now just trying to pass along the lessons he learned along his path. That’s part of what the new book is about. He’s also coaching, both as a player development guy with the South Bay Lakers — the Lakers G-League team — and with some youth teams. He wants others to get the chances he had.
“I feel like I have a real opportunity to come out the other side, 360 degrees plus, and show people that no matter what you go through, you keep fighting, and you get through it,” World Peace said. “It’s not all about becoming an NBA player, sometimes it’s about becoming your best self and making the biggest impact you can make…
“I really enjoy that I can say ‘I went through this’ and give it back. But I don’t want to be like ‘be like me,’ I’m more like ‘be like yourself.’”
World Peace was always himself. It’s what makes the book and his stories a good read.