- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest says he was inspired to change his name to Metta World Peace by Chad Ochocinco, assisted in selecting his new name by a mystery woman, and foiled in formally doing so -- until at least his next court date on Sept. 16 -- by a complete lack of knowledge about how to pay parking tickets.
"It comes down to the parking tickets. I don't know how to pay a parking ticket. I've never paid a parking ticket in my life," Artest told Stephen A. Smith on 710 ESPNLA Wednesday night.
"There's so much fine print," Artest continued. "I just get them and throw them in my glove compartment."
When Smith asked if that's the explanation he would give to the judge at his next court date, Artest said, "I have to. I want to change my name and get it over with already."
And just how did Artest get the idea to change his name in the first place?
"When Ocho did it, I was like, 'That's kind of dope. I want to change my name,'" Artest said. "But then I was like, 'I'm not going to do it because that just don't make sense.'"
Artest obviously changed his mind somewhere along the line, and the decision wasn't as impulsive as it might've seemed.
Artest alluded to a mystery woman who helped him come up with new names, narrow the list down, and then ultimately select Metta World Peace.
"Metta is going to be the first name and it means like friendship, love and kindness," he said. "World Peace is going to be the last name, so everybody can get ready to buy their World Peace jerseys."
Among the topics discussed in the hour-long interview, which was broadcast from the San Manuel Casino in Highland, Calif., was the Lakers' second-round upset loss to the Dallas Mavericks, teammate Lamar Odom's reality show, Artest's preparation to compete on the television show "Dancing With the Stars," and the status of the NBA lockout.
At one point, Artest's partner on the show, Peta Murgatroyd, called into the show to praise his work so far.
"He's taking it very seriously. He's putting everything into it and giving it all he's got," she said. "He's an athlete so he's already got that drive and determination installed in him. He wants to win and he knows what it takes to win. I'm very pleased with how he's done so far. He's a big guy and I expect him to lift me over his head and twirl me."
Their first dance on the show, which premiers September 19, will be the cha-cha.
But don't get too excited.
When Smith asked whether Artest would guaranteed victory on DWTS like he'd earlier guaranteed a Lakers championship, Artest laughed and said, "That's going to be a problem."
Toward the end of the show Artest said he'd been hearing encouraging news from the latest round of labor negotiations taking place between NBA commissioner David Stern and the players' association in New York this week.
"A week ago I expected us not to play until January (or) February, but now I have a good feeling we might have one on time," he said. "It seems like we might possibly have a season. I'm hearing progress in these last couple days. I haven't heard this all summer. I've heard people not even talking, going to meetings, showing up.
"But now I'm hearing some very good things and I'm very excited."
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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