Ron Artest, AKA Metta World Peace - anything but peaceful
Metta World Peace (formerly Ron Artest) is a talented but combustible NBA player. He entered the league in 1999 with the Chicago Bulls and now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. He has also played for the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, and Houston Rockets. For years Artest has been viewed as being crazy and unpredictable, often picking up flagrant and technical fouls for his outbursts. Even after changing his name to "World Peace", his antics have continued.
Note: because of this, I have decided to address him by Artest, rather than World Peace.
Malice at the Palace
The famous brawl took occurred on November 19, 2004 at a Pacers-Pistons game. The brawl was dubbed "Malice at the Palace" because it took place at the "Palace at Auburn Hills", home of the Pistons. This was the event that made Ron Artest well recognized to sports fans and non-sports fans as being a dangerous and unstable player. Artest had already had his share of issues on the court prior to this, but this incident was such a disgrace that it furthered his reputation as being trouble.
With about a minute left in the game, Artest had a hard foul on Ben Wallace as he tried for a layup. After the foul, Wallace pushed Artest and a confrontation began that involved players from each team. Artest moved away from the confrontation and laid down on the scorer's table. He put on a headset and pretended that he was broadcasting. Some people dismiss this action by simply saying that that is just his personality - eccentric and sometimes playful. It was apparently his way of trying to calm himself down and allow the situation to settle down.
It took a turn for the worse when a fan threw a cup at Artest that hit him in the chest. He went from being just eccentric and wacky to being out of his mind. Artest sprung into the stands and grabbed the fan. After that, a full-on brawl began between players and fans. It was a disgusting and terrifying sight to see. The fracas resulted in multiple players being suspended for varying lengths. Ron Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season - 73 regular season games and 13 playoff games. Although multiple players and fans were to blame for the incident, Artest chose to lay on the scoring table and essentially removed a barrier between himself and the fans. There was no barrier of any kind to keep him from entering the stands.
Career after the brawl
Artest went to Sacramento after asking for a trade away from the Pacers. He managed to spark the Kings with his defensive play and helped his team make the playoffs. However, it didn't take long for Artest to return to his old ways. In the first round of the playoffs, Artest elbowed Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs in the head. He was issued a flagrant foul and suspended for a game.
Later traded to the Rockets, Artest continued with his nonsense. Yao Ming jokingly welcomed Artest to the Rockets and commented that he hoped Artest was done fighting and going into the stands. Artest responded by making a comment that he (Artest) was representing his culture and that Yao likely had never played with a player that represented his culture the way Artest did. Nonetheless, Artest joined the team and helped get them to the playoffs for the first time in years. His behavior issues continued and he was ejected in games two and three of the second round against the Lakers. The ejection in game two was issued for antagonizing Kobe Bryant after a play. In game three, Artest had a hard foul on Pau Gasol that lead to his ejection. It was later changed to a lower grade of a flagrant foul (flagrant one). However, the fact that he received back to back ejections was a bit alarming considering his past.
Artest joined the Lakers in 2009. He was a big part of the Lakers defeating the Boston Celtics to win the championship in 2010. He scored 20 points in game seven to help the Lakers clinch the title. It was a bit of a surprise that he became somewhat of a hero of the game, and was called the MVP of the game by the Lakers coach, Phil Jackson.
Prior to the start of the 2011-2012 season, Artest changed his name to World Peace. The name change was meant to inspire youth, as "Metta" is a Buddhist word for kindness and friendliness. It could be considered admirable for someone to change their name to this if their intentions were genuine and if they personified peace. However, Artest is one of the most undeserving players to wear the name "World Peace" on the back of a jersey.
Recent non-peace like action
In a late regular season game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Artest struck again by landing a vicious elbow to the head of James Harden. The elbowing took place after a slam-dunk by Artest. As he turned around celebrating, Harden bumped into him. Artest then pulled his arm back and flung his elbow into the head of Harden. It appeared Artest claimed that he was celebrating and unintentionally hit Harden. This is hard to believe considering the "wind-up" motion he made before striking Harden. Artest was immediately ejected and a suspension will likely follow. Harden left the game and was unable to return.
Though Artest has cleaned up his reputation in recent years with charitable actions and even winning the NBA Citizenship Award, it's actions like these that show his true colors as being a wreckless and dangerous player. He has shown a pattern over the years of being out of control at times. For years, he has had trouble staying under control towards the end of games when his team was losing, often hitting players with hard fouls or instigating altercations. It's a shame considering the immense talent Artest has, especially on the defensive end. Considering that Artest is still doing the same foolish things years after the Pacers-Pistons brawl, it appears that he likely won't ever change and will continue on with his absurd actions.
April 24, 2012 - update
The NBA dealt Artest a seven game suspension for his elbow thrown to the head of James Harden. It could definitely be argued that this suspension is not severe enough. The hit was violent and dangerous. Harden suffered a concussion from it and it could have been worse if the elbow connected with his face. So, is seven games enough of a suspension?
May 19, 2012 - update
Wow, shocker, Artest sparks yet another altercation. This time, the altercation was due to fighing for a loose ball on the ground with Russell Westbrook of the Thunder. The commentators said that Westbrook over-reacted to Artest. Can you really blame him? Artest already concussed a teammate of his with a cheapshot elbow to the head, so I don't know how much you can fault Westbrook for over-reacting and being extra defensive towards Artest. If I was Westbrook I would be on the defensive too if I was scrapping with Artest for a loose ball - you never know what may happen. It looked like Westbrook may have elbowed the leg of Artest or shoved him, and Artest retaliated by attempting to knee him while he was on the ground. Even if Artest didn't start it, wouldn't it be wise for him to just get up and walk away given the recent event with the James Harden and the Thunder (and throughout his career). Regardless, is it a surprise to anyone to see Artest involved in anohter confrontation?