After 18 years of playing professional basketball, Metta World Peace is ready for a new challenge.
The former NBA champion, Defensive Player of the Year and all-star is getting ready for his first season as a player development coach for the South Bay Lakers.
And though he plans on drawing from his experiences in this new NBA G League role, World Peace is very much locked into the present.
“The past is the past,” he said at South Bay media day. “I had fun. It’s been documented.”
That fun includes the past two years when he returned to the Los Angeles Lakers, finishing his playing career as the team’s veteran mentor.
He also provided the funniest moment of last season when he randomly screamed “I love basketball!” between free throws at Indiana.
Larry Nance Jr. said the team watched the clip about 50 times on the flight back home to L.A., and the phrase immediately became the Lakers’ rallying cry for the season.
But, as a coach, he’s more inclined to listen or offer measured advice.
“When I’m coaching there’s really nothing to scream ‘I love basketball!’ about,” World Peace said. “You’re just saying, ‘Just set a better screen.’”
Ironically, the player known for his crazy antics is now someone who South Bay coach Coby Karl is asking to become more vocal.
It is one of the challenges facing World Peace as he begins his coaching career in the exact same role as L.A. Lakers head coach Luke Walton.
“Coach Karl came to me the other day and was like, ‘I need more from you,’” World Peace said. “That was pretty cool, because I’m starting from the bottom.”
World Peace is embracing this opportunity to work through new challenges. Although he had a personal goal of playing 20 years of pro basketball — in the NBA or overseas — he is happy with helping the South Bay players find their potential.
“I feel like any player I’m working with I can make better,” World Peace said. “I actually enjoy it — that’s the best thing about it.”