He came as Ron Artest, and he leaves as Metta World Peace with an NBA championship ring and his face on a Wheaties box — and the grateful thanks of Los Angeles County mental health advocates. The Lakers used their amnesty clause to release World Peace from the team on Thursday. They still have to pay him $7.7 million, but the Lakers save something like $15 million under the league's so-called luxury tax. He becomes a free agent who can sign with anyone. From ESPN LA:
"It's tough to say goodbye to a player such as Metta, who has been a significant part of our team the past four seasons. For anyone who's had the opportunity to get to know him, it's impossible not to love him," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a release. "He has made many contributions to this organization, both in his community work as well as in our games; perhaps no more so than in his clutch play in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals in helping to lead us over the Celtics in one of the greatest playoff wins in Lakers history.
"We thank Metta for all his contributions and wish him the best of luck in the future."
World Peace is apparently saying he would be open to playing for the Clippers or possibly one of the New York teams, but otherwise might retire. He is 33 and a veteran of 14 NBA seasons. Below, after winning the NBA championship in 2010, one of the most heartfelt news conferences by a pro athlete you'll ever see — "I've got Wheaties!"
Previously on LA Observed:
Inside Ron Artest's head may be a scary place
Behind the scenes of Artest's PSA for mental health
Let Artest (still) be Artest
Artest, Ron is now World Peace, Metta
Metta elbow turns into teachable moment for county Mental Health