Whether he is going by Ron Artest, Metta World Peace, or the Panda's friend, the man of many names currently vying for a roster spot during the Los Angeles Lakers' training camp has never been shy about giving his opinion on almost anything. From advocating to mental health to talking trash on his fellow NBA players, World Peace has always been good for a quote. But since returning to the Lakers on a one-year, non-guaranteed deal, the 15-year NBA veteran has kept quiet for the majority of training camp, seemingly content to focus on mentoring the litter of young players on the Lakers' training camp roster and making the team himself.
But before anyone starts to think that age has turned World Peace peaceful, he recently sat down with Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times to give his thoughts on the state of the NBA, and let's just say he is not very much of a fan of the direction of the game:
"I remember I came into the NBA in 1999, the game was a little bit more rough. The game now is more for kids. It's not really a man's game anymore," World Peace said. "The parents are really protective of their children. They cry to their AAU coaches. They cry to the refs, 'That's a foul. That's a foul.'
"Sometimes I wish those parents would just stay home, don't come to the game, and now translated, these same AAU kids whose parents came to the game, 'That's a foul.' These kids are in the NBA. So now we have a problem. You've got a bunch of babies professionally around the world."
World Peace wasn't quite done.
"It's no longer a man's game," he said. "It's a baby's game. There's softies everywhere. Everybody's soft. Nobody's hard no more. So, you just deal with it, you adjust and that's it."
In a shocking twist, an older person thinks the people younger than them have it easier and are not as tough as a result, a human sentiment that transcends sports but does seem to be especially prevalent among aging athletes.
However, World Peace has been spending the summer working out with the Lakers' 2014 lottery pick, Julius Randle, and he does not seem to think the state of the game is reflected in the second-year forward:
"He's a man," World Peace said. "He's Julius Randle. The one and only. The great R-A-N-D-L-E, first name J-U-L-I-U-S.
"His ceiling is as high as destiny. We don't know because he's only 19. I don't want to predict the future because so many great things are going to happen from now until he's like 30."
Like Kobe calling D'Angelo Russell's vision "astronomical," World Peace saying Randle's "ceiling is as high as destiny" does not make a ton of sense, but the sentiment is nice. Also nice? Seeing two players so instrumental in the Lakers' last championship so high on the core the team's front office believes can help bring in the next one.