metta world peace & james harden*His cocky refusal to make amends for brutishly elbowing James Harden in the head proves that Metta World Peace’s high-sounding moniker has no significance whatsoever.  The Lakers star forward re-named himself Metta World Peace to denote kindness, benevolence, friendliness and non-violence – values summed up in the Buddhist concept of “metta.”  But by refusing to apologize or even to shake hands with the Oklahoma City player who suffered a concussion under his blow, MWP proves that he has no commitment to the lofty ideals embodied by his chosen appellation.

When he changed his name last September, the erstwhile Ron Artest announced that he wanted “to inspire and bring youth together all around the world.”  Publicist Courtney Barnes explained that the newly-minted Metta “took many years of research and soul-searching to find a first name that was both personally meaningful and inspirational.”

Really?

In his 2010 article “Metta: The Philosophy and Practice of Universal Love” (excerpted from his 1989 book), internationally-known Buddhist scholar Acharya Buddharakkhita explains that metta is all about love, friendship and going out of your way to make sure other people are OK.  Buddharakkhita writes:

“Through metta one refuses to be offensive and renounces bitterness, resentment and animosity of every kind, developing instead a mind of friendliness, accommodativeness and benevolence which seeks the well-being and happiness of others. True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love… Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.”

Hmmm…  Refuses to be offensive.  Renounces bitterness.  Seeks the well-being and happiness of others.  Maybe Metta World Peace never stumbled across any statements like that during his “many years of research.”  Or maybe he just forgot.  Bottom line is, Metta’s behavior around the James Harden incident hasn’t been very metta.

Shortly after the NBA suspended him for seven games over the elbowing, World Peace logged on to his web site and posted a bland apology that icily omitted Harden.  World Peace wrote:  “I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization. I look forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers fans.”

His disregard for Harden was even more apparent when World Peace met reporters last Saturday after the Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets, setting up this week’s playoff series with OKC.  Asked if he would shake hands with Harden, World Peace said with a snicker, “I don’t shake substitutes’ hands.  He don’t start.”

Again, not real metta, Metta.

I always figured that Metta World Peach’s headline-grabbing name change was a PR and marketing stunt.  At attempt to boost his off-court celebrity status.  Like dyeing his hair and trying too hard to be funny on Dancing With the Stars. 

If he was truly interested in inspiring peace and in demonstrating kindness then Metta World Peace would have voluntarily and immediately apologized to James Harden.  He would have rushed to shake Harden’s hand as a sincere act of goodwill and compassion toward another human being.  Those simple acts would have been huge steps toward World Peace’s proclaimed goal to “inspire and bring young people together around the world.”

But it appears that, despite his new name, Metta World Peace isn’t a completely new man.  He still resembles the arrogant, self-centered, hot-tempered guy who assaulted a coach, brawled with fans in the stands and got 10 days in jail for slapping a woman around in his house.  Maybe he should go back to calling himself Ron Artest.  It seems that the name Metta World Peace means nothing.

Thanks for listening.  I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.

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cameron turner

Cameron Turner