Metta World Peace was ahead of his time with his statement jerseys

Aug 1, 2020
PHOTO: AP

IT'S a refreshing sight to see NBA players express their activism inside the NBA bubble.

Players not only wore "Black Lives Matter" warmers and kneeled during the national anthem, but also had statements placed on the backs of their jerseys. (Well, most of them, anyway.)

The league and the NBA Players Union agreed on a list of social justice messages these players can choose to put on their backs and a lot chose that right.

The most popular of the terms used was "Equality" — with Serbian guard Luka Doncic ("Enakopravnost") and Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis ("Vienlidziba") of the Dallas Mavericks choosing to use the message in their native tongue.

But almost a full decade since these social justice messages were allowed in the players' uniforms, one player proved to be ahead of his time.

In 2011, Ron Artest legally changed his name to Metta World Peace.

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    "Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world," he said in a statement then as he aimed to shed his troublesome past.

    Artest chose Metta as his first name as it was the traditional Buddhist word that meant "loving kindness and friendliness towards all."

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    World Peace played in the NBA until his retirement in 2017, spending time between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks as well as brief runs in China and Italy.

    That capped off a 18-year career that saw him play for the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, as well as the Lakers and the Knicks.

    He hung his sneakers as a one-time NBA champion with the Lakers in 2010 and the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year with the Pacers.

    This May, World Peace said that he had changed his name once again, this time to Metta Sandiford-Artest.

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    Three decades back, Lloyd Free, who played in the NBA from 1975 to 1988, also legally changed his name to World B. Free.

    World was the nickname he was given when he was in junior high school.

    "They just started calling me 'all-world', because all-city and all-county and things like that weren't good enough," he said in an old USA Today interview back in 1981.

    Free had stints in Philadelphia 76ers, San Diego Clippers, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Rockets.

    In his time with Golden State, he was named as All-Star back in 1980.

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    PHOTO: AP
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