Ron Artest first came to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 without a ring, and after being waived via the amnesty clause, he now leaves L.A. as a former champion Metta World Peace both on and off the court. Despite what MWP has gone through in the course of his career and outside of the fact that he was amnestied, this is the perfect timing for MWP to retire and close a chapter of his life on an almost near-perfect tenure with the Lakers.
When the Lakers made the decision to trade for Artest in 2009 from the Houston Rockets, nobody could have foreseen how perfect they were for each other. Right from the beginning when MWP planted his first step in L.A., everybody worried about his checkered past and wrote him off, as if it was inevitable that he would screw up.
In his career, Artest has been known for many things, but mainly one of which made him famous for all of the wrong seasons. When someone mentions his name, they automatically remember him as the NBA player that fought with fans in the famous Pacers-Pistons Brawl back in 2004. Artest and others were suspended, but he was the lone player that got suspended for the entire 2004-05 season, including the playoffs.
During his four years with the Lakers, however, that person who everyone put an asterisk next to his name was fading away. Artest was becoming no more, and changed his name legally to MWP and became a new person.
On the basketball court, MWP re-discovered his love for the game and reminded people of the type of player he was as a rookie in 1999. Back then, people knew he was a passionate player with a swagger for playing tenacious defense and a person who never backed down from a challenge.
With the Lakers, MWP may not have always put up big numbers or even score at some points, but he was the one person that stayed constant; stayed true to his team through the good and the bad times. On numerous occasions, All-Star Kobe “Black Mamba” Bryant mentioned that the only teammate he trusts on the court to play hard every single night with a drive and passion like his was MWP.
MWP mentioned that he wanted to be a champion and win a ring before his career came to a close, and ironically, MWP became a champion twice. In 2010, he witnessed and experienced what will go down as one of the Lakers greatest championship games ever against their nemesis Boston Celtics in capturing the Lakers 17th title. It was then and there MWP got his first ring, but most people forget that just one year later, MWP received something even greater.
MWP was awarded in 2011 the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner for his efforts in raising money and awareness for mental health.
In 2012-13, the Lakers without a question were labeled as one of the biggest busts after failing to deliver a championship with the arrival of All-Stars Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. Even with all of the struggles, MWP gave it everything he had from scoring 12.4 points to guarding the opponents best player to coming back 12 days after having knee surgery to help the Lakers compete for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Although retiring will be hard for a fighter like MWP after not being able to end his career the way he wanted to, this is the time to move on. What MWP did for the Lakers organization itself did not merit him being amnestied at all, but what he does deserve is for people to judge him for who he is now, and not who he was earlier in his career.
After being amnestied, MWP should retired not because he deserves it, but because he owes it to himself to close a part of his life where he has achieved more than he set out to do. MWP came to the Lakers with nothing, but will retire as a former champion and will be at peace with his retire from the game that stood by his side all these years.