Something strange happened during Metta World Peace’s four years with the Lakers. As he regressed as a basketball player but progressed as a person, becoming one of the likable guys in the league with his goofy personality and willingness to speak out on issues like mental health, I liked him more and more as a complete player, even as every one of his individual skills got worse and worse.
It’s difficult to explain. World Peace was nothing like the Ron Artest who was once the best defender in the league and capable of being a team’s best offensive player. He no longer possessed any vertical, meaning the rim blocked him on layups, if not a 7-footer. When he started dribbling every fan expected something terrible to happen, something truly awful, which, once you’d seen it, meant the game could never be the same. I was pleasantly surprised if he’d make both free throws. Small forwards could blow past him more than you’d think. His post moves consisted of bullying his way into the lane, like a 50-year-old playing against his 8-year-old son, except with less success around the basket. The jumper was iffy — there one game, gone the next six. Yet I enjoyed the Metta World Peace Era.
A great sense of timing makes up for a lot.