Metta World Peace, broadcaster?

June, 12, 2013
6/12/13
1:44
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
Archive
LOS ANGELES -- Anyone who watched Metta World Peace's epic press conference following Game 7 of the 2010 Finals knows just how entertaining the man can be with a microphone a TV cameras in front of him.

Now a few years later, with his NBA future up in the air, the Los Angeles Lakers forward is testing out what it would be like to transition to a broadcasting career once his playing days are done.

World Peace has embarked on a media whirlwind this summer, using the exposure on the likes of ESPN's "SportsNation," ESPN LA 710 radio's "Max & Marcellus Show," ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," Time Warner Cable SportsNet's "Access SportsNet: Lakers" and the NBC Sports Network's "The Crossover" with Michelle Beadle to promote his new children's book and to explore what it's like to be one of those doing the talking rather than be the one being talked about.

"I think I’m a different type of analyst because I’ve been involved in so many different situations where I can be judged and I’ve always tried to not judge someone," World Peace told ESPNLosAngeles.com in a telephone interview.

"At one time we probably shook hands and now I’m on TV talking about this player, he might not be able to take it. So, it’s my job to try to smooth it over and I always make sure I do that. That’s why I’m always having fun, because I don’t want the players to think that I’m killing them in the media."

While World Peace is willing to do wacky things like when he gorged on cupcakes during his TWC SportsNet appearance to keep things light, he certainly doesn't always sugarcoat his opinions.

When asked for his analysis of the current NBA Finals matchup between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, World Peace did not hold back.

"Mentally, the Spurs are strongest right now," World Peace said. "I think LeBron and (Chris) Bosh they want it to be given to them. I don't think they're taking it upon themselves like a (Michael) Jordan would have done."

Those opinions will get people to tune in. And there could be a need for a strong voice like World Peace's in the near future, as the NBA's most outspoken broadcaster, Charles Barkley, told SI.com back in November that he is contemplating leaving TNT in search of a new challenge.

Not that World Peace is planning on retiring from the NBA just yet. World Peace, who just finished his 14th season in the league and will turn 34 in November, wants to play six more seasons before calling it a career.

"I’m just giving people a taste because I don’t know what organizations are thinking, so I’m like, ‘You know what? I got to start giving people a taste of what I can do,’" World Peace said. "I want to do 20 years in the NBA and I’m going to stay in shape so I can reach 20 years, or maybe even 21, who knows? But I’m going to give people a taste of what I can do when I’m behind the TV screen officially. That’s what I’m doing now."

Before World Peace can consider playing 20 seasons, there's still that pesky question of figuring out where he'll be for season No. 15. He has a player option for $7.7 million for next season, but if he exercises it the Lakers could very well use their one-time amnesty provision to get out of that contract and waive World Peace.

His other option is to try to work out a new, multi-year deal to stay in L.A., which he seems to prefer.

"I came here at a discount five years ago and I did that because I just want to win," World Peace said. "One thing I realized that is when players take all the money, you don’t have enough (cap) room for other winning players to be on the team. So, for me, it’s more about just being fair. I thought my last contract was fair. I probably could have got more somewhere else, but I thought it was fair. Right now, the main thing with the Lakers whenever we cross that path is that (the offer) is just fair."

World Peace is leaving it up to his agent to take care of that. He has been working out at the Lakers' practice facility in recent weeks, but when he sees general manager Mitch Kupchak, they talk basketball, not dollars.

"I’m trying to just stay in shape and I want to make sure I’m in shape for the Lakers’ season next year," said World Peace, who is recovering from left knee surgery but plans to ramp up his offseason workout routine starting June 15. "So my whole focus is next year with the Lakers and whatever my agent and the Lakers come up with, I will most likely agree to whatever they come with."

In the meantime, he is diving headfirst into TV and not holding anything back. Like when he filmed a skit with Will Smith on "Kimmel" and had the movie star, who was playing the role of a blind referee, actually strike him in the face for a laugh.

"I always wanted to do a movie with Will Smith and I had a chance to do the skit," World Peace said. "When they did it, the producer said, ‘Hey, smack him!’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, smack me!’ Will said, ‘Hey, hey, I’m not smacking him.’ He said to the producer, ‘Let me smack you and see how it feels.’ Then I said, ‘No, no, don’t worry about it. Let’s make this skit funny.’

"Then Will smacked me in the chest the first take, because he wanted to see how I was going to react. I said, ‘Will, why didn’t you smack me in the face?’ He said, ‘I wanted to see how you were going to react.’ He said, ‘Now I know that you’re not going to react, I’m going to smack you in the face.’ And then he smacked me in the face. It was fun."

Going on TV is not only fun for World Peace, but he said that staying in the spotlight as a member of the media after he's retired from the NBA will give him a chance to advance his causes of education and mental health awareness.

"Here in America, we’re losing the battle on education worldwide," World Peace said, explaining the motivation behind writing his "Metta's Bedtime Stories" book. "I want to be part of something special. I want to be part when we start turning around. I want to start with the children, get them interested in reading."

And when they're done their reading, he won't mind if they change the channel to find him on TV somewhere.

"People want me to be on TV and it’s kind of humbling because I’ve been through so much," World Peace said. "I’ve been on the other side of the media. So, I can definitely see myself doing it, being humbled, because I respect analysts, journalists, commentators. I don’t think that’s an easy job. I think it’s a hard job."

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