Metta World Peace wants to show off his softer side.
During an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz, the forward approached a fan to retrieve a ball he had knocked out of bounds — and if you know anything about Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, good things don’t happen when he interacts with fans — but this time had gentler intentions. As the Yahoo! Sports blog Ball Don’t Lie notes, Artest went to a woman behind the person who had caught the ball and gave her a kiss on the hand.
“You know, as a gentleman does,” the blog noted of Metta World Peace’s behavior.
This could be a new leaf for Metta World Peace, the 2011 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner. After being suspended for the entire 2004-05 season for running into the stands against Detroit and sparking a brawl between players and fans, Metta has struggled with inconsistency but aimed to be a better player and person.
He played the good teammate as a member of the Sacramento Kings, but with the Los Angeles Lakers has struggled with the anger that held him back in the past. This was on display last season when he delivered a crushing elbow to the head of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s James Harden.
But why would Metta World Peace give a fan a kiss? Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times has the explanation:
“I just saw in her eyes that she liked the hustle,” World Peace said after the Lakers’ 99-86 preseason loss Saturday to the Utah Jazz at Staples Center. “I saw it in her eyes. We made eye contact.” [...]
Did World Peace get the fan’s phone number?
“No number needed,” World Peace said with a smile. “She’s a fan and is a real nice lady.”
For Lakers fans hoping for another championship this year, it probably doesn’t matter if Metta World Peace is nice or angry, as long as he’s helping the team win.