The ending of the NBA lockout caught Metta World Peace by surprise. He was preparing for an extended offseason instead of a hectic regular season. Metta’s many endeavors made headlines as he flirted with playing ball in Europe, possibly becoming a British soap star, briefly danced with the stars and seemingly did everything except prepare for the 2011-12 NBA season.
During the Lakers first day of practice it was obvious what World Peace had been doing – a whole lot of nothing.
In that Andrew Bynumkind of way World Peace was given a pass for being honest about his lack of preparation. The problem was this season was nothing like the previous two Metta had engaged in as a Laker. This time around they needed him to be more than just an afterthought of a fourth option.
Mike Brown’s failed experiment of making Metta a sixth man might have worked had World Peace reported to the team in shape. As we saw in the later stages of the season, once World Peace had his legs he was a major contributor including helping to carry the team during Kobe Bryant’s injury absence.
It’s barely been a week since the Lakers’ season came to an end once again in the second round. Already World Peace is promising to come back, in shape for the start of next season. He’s preparing by playing in the Drew League where Metta has said he’ll be working on a few things that didn’t click with his game this past season. But Metta cites conditioning as the biggest reason why he’s gone head first into summer league hoops.
“I want to come back next year in shape so I’m trying to play.”
We’ve been here before. Who can forget all the offseason promises Shaq made when he was a Laker? None of those ever came to fruition but with Metta you know it is much different.
For one this could be the end of World Peace. The Lakers are unlikely to find any takers in a trade given his contract but the amnesty clause could come calling. More importantly World Peace does have a sense of pride that you see flare up from time to time when adversity strikes.
Now if all that isn’t motivation enough let’s not forget Metta doesn’t own a championship ring despite winning a title his first season as a Laker. He raffled off his ring for a fundraiser. No doubt World Peace wants another ring, one he can keep. Most important of all though, Kobe Bryant said World Peace was the only teammate he could trust to bring it every night. Metta didn’t do that this past season so he’s got to be eager to prove Mamba right next season.