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Metta World Peace says he almost signed in Greece before the Lakers called him in 2009

In what would have been the most Metta World Peace move of all-time, he nearly left to play professionally in Greece in 2009 before joining the Lakers.

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Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Seven Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Metta World Peace is truly a one-of-a-kind character. There is no one that came into the NBA before him, and no one that has come after that is as fascinating a person on and off the court as Metta was.

Lakers fans saw all the fascinating aspects of MWP across two stints, six seasons and 358 games. But if Metta had his way back in 2009, he perhaps not only wouldn’t have donned the purple and gold, he wouldn’t have even worn an NBA jersey again.

In an interview with James Herbert of CBS Sports, World Peace talked about how, if he had his way in 2009, he would have signed in Greece.

Yes, really.

CBS: How close were you to playing in Greece in 2004 and 2009?

MWP: Greece was really close, especially in 2009. Because at that point I wanted to play on certain teams, but [couldn’t sign with] the teams that I wanted to play on when I was in free agency. Indiana was one of the teams I wanted to play for. And then I couldn’t play for Indiana. And I wanted to go back to the Rockets, but the Rockets did whatever they did. And then I tried to go to Detroit, but those discussions kind of was shot down. That was shot down.

I didn’t want to team up with anybody. I wanted to go to one of those teams and then play against the best players in the league. So at that point I told my agent, who was David Bauman at the time, to look into Greece. And they thought I was playing around ‘cause they couldn’t pay as much as the NBA or whatever. But I never really played for money anyway, honestly — when I was playing, that was the last thing on my mind. But they just didn’t take me serious, so I was like, “Whatever.” The Lakers called me, and I was surprised to hear from the Lakers. But they called and I met with Dr. [Jerry] Buss that morning and the rest was history.

It’s almost hard to fathom a 29-year-old Metta spurning the NBA in his prime to sign in Greece. Like, in the 2008-09 season, MWP went toe-to-toe with Kobe in the playoffs, averaged 15.6 points and had three 20-point games in the series while also being named to the All-Defensive Second Team that season.

And that guy wanted to just, like, go to Greece and play? The leading scorer in the 2008-09 season in the Greek league averaged 18.3 points per game. MWP averaged 17.1 that same season in the NBA. Metta wasn’t even known as a scorer and he probably would have averaged at least 35 points per game in Greece.

Fortunately for Lakers fans, Metta did join the Lakers instead of tearing up the Greek league, as he was an integral part of the 2009-10 title-winning team, endearing himself to anyone with purple and gold blood forever.

But really, who wouldn’t have wanted to watch MWP just out-muscle poor Greek players who absolutely did not sign up to play against an actual, in-his-prime NBA player? Consider it an opportunity missed, even if everyone here should probably be glad it didn’t happen.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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