If Dos Equis decides to retire the reigning "Most Interesting Man in the World," well, Metta World Peace is ready to take over. Somewhere in the sea of China's 1.36 billion people, presumably playing either on a basketball court, or with pandas, World Peace lies always in waiting, building an empire truly his own, ready to declare war on world boredom and artifice.
Such is the life of World Peace who, in a single summer, is capable of more eccentric decisions than many make in a lifetime. To summarize his 2014 edition, he changed his own name (for the third, or fourth time) with unabashed enthusiasm and purpose; visited the basketball courts of San Quentin Prison for a summer shoot-around promoting non-violence on behalf of the center named after his current name; and decided to assistant coach a high school girls basketball team (just because) only to walk away before coaching a single gamebeginning, electing to sign a contract to play for the Sichuan Blue Whales of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Today, the artist formerly known as Artest (and Tru Warier) remains ever irreverent, forever fascinating, and plainly, impulsively human, all while halfway around the world from NBA HQ. World PeaceMetta, knowingly or not, is in the business of whimsical reinvention; and, in the process, ironically turned himself into an organic one-man brand. All this during an era, no less, when basketball players are exceedingly manufactured entities, cultivating their image and media presence equally as much their craft.
Kobe spins up Kobe, Inc after Kobe Doin' Work. Kevin Durant stars in his own HBO special as an encore to Thunderstruck. LeBron drops Survivor's Remorse, with a Disney show on the way and much more to come.
World Peace, meanwhile, seems like he could care less; because, damn, is it fun to change one's' own name so many times. The Panda's FriendThe Pandas Friend is his latest self-styled moniker and creation. What's in a name, exactly? For starters, his personal logo, customizable catalog of T-shirts, and a line of Panda-inspired sneakers unlike anything the world has laid eyes on.
All of it taking after his first baby, and flagship, Metta World Peace. There, one finds an online library for his beyond incredible children's books; more MWP-logo-centered swag; a walk through his Xcel University and their extensive mental-health advocacy work; and the chance for new subscribers to win a Christmas gift from Metta World Santa (actually).
Of course, the positive message behind both of his brand-names comes in spite of his minimal impact thus far in the CBA, nearly halfway through its season. Metta's Blue Whales currently sit at 4-15, good for seventeen17th place (out of 20). And worse still, World Peace suffered a "chronical" knee injury on December 7 sidelining him for three- to five-weeks, and forcing Sichuan to sign former Kentucky center Daniel Orton in his stead.
But struggles or not, World Peace soldiers on, undeterred, offering a perpetual breathe of fresh air: planning winter holidays to the Philippines and Angola (making clear his PBA aspirations in the process, to the delight on the Filipino media and Manny Pacquiao who hopes to recruit him to his Kia Sorrento side), perfecting his craft as the world's premier two-paragraph-at-a-time writer for his Metta Knows Best blog on Rant Sports; and turning his personal twitter feed into a glorious hybrid of Mark Twain, Stephen A. Smith, Yogi Berra and Nostradamus:
As we fight pollution , don't forget to enjoy the air. Best Quote ever By Metta World Yeah
— mettaworldpeace.com (@MettaWorldPeace)December 7, 2014
Among his other twitter-sphere highlights: reminding his followers the then 2-10 New York Jets were "the best team in the history of football," before predicting they would "prevail and become champions" a day later; noting that Marc Gasol is "so good he could change the world"; ruminating on the differences between ego and greed; Metta reminding the world he is "still one of the best SFs in the universe" and poised to make good on his life goal of five NBA All Star game appearances with "Mission Still Not Accomplished," both tweets carrying the ominous foreshadowing #nbareturnafter hashtag.
Amidst it all, with China's season ending in February, the question lingers: does World Peace have anything left in the tank as an NBA-wing? Perhaps. (Though even if he returns to CBA action, the league doesn't offer much context and puts the NBDL to shame in regard to statistical inflation. Consider that in Round 19 a few days ago, Michael Beasley went for 42 points and 10 assists, Willie Warren dropped 66 points and Von Wafer threw up a triple-double, all to the dismay of Emmanuel Mudiay).
Metta's brother suggested a month ago the Clippers are merely biding their time to bring him back to Staples Center. Meanwhile, a spot sharing a clipboard for the Palisades High School girls coaching staff awaits (where his 6'8'' son Ron Artest III is also currently a sophomore for the boys team). As does a revival of his Tru Warier rapping days, should ever he want to reunite with P. Diddy.
Ultimately, whatever comes next for World Peace, guarantee this: it sure as hell won't be boring.