The player formerly known as Ron Artest signs with his hometown team.
Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven| Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2013
While most fanbases might have been left shaking their collective head if their squad had signed a guy like Metta World Peace, Knicks fans, by and large, are elated that the former Ron Artest is taking his talents to Midtown South. That's because if feels like he always should have been a Knick. Artest grew up in New York. He played college ball at St. Johns. And his game — rugged, intense, not pretty — evokes those classic Knicks teams of the '90s, dominated by hard-nosed players like Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason. Peace (World Peace? How do we refer to this guy?) is in that mold. At 6'7", 260 lbs, he remains a physical force, even at 34. And the Knicks need that, because while their Eastern Conference rivals will be significantly improved next season, the Knicks have stood relatively pat. The Bulls get Derrick Rose back, the Pacers — who beat the Knicks this postseason — added Knicks sharpshooter Chris Copeland and see the return of Danny Granger. The Nets added two future Hall of Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, plus another in new coach Jason Kidd. The Heat remain the Heat.
So, yeah, the Knicks have their work cut out for them. A healthy Amar'e Stoudemire would be a start. As would Tyson Chandler returning to form. If new Knick — and former number 1 draft pick — Andrea Bargnani ever played up to his potential, it would be huge. But you can't count on a second-straight career year from Carmelo Anthony, and while the loss of Kidd won't make much difference in the box score, his absence will be felt in the locker room. That's why New York fans are psyched to add one of the most off-kilter players in NBA history. The 2013-model Metta World Peace isn't the same player who averaged 20 points a game or won Defensive Player of the Year. But he's also not a guy who's going to get suspended for 86 games for taking a brawl into the stands (although James Harden fans might disagree). But he still brings defensive intensity, veteran leadership, and toughness to a team that needs it. And he's coming home to the franchise it seems like he was always destined to play for. Before signing, World Peace said he wanted to coach, play arena football, or average 40 points a game in China. "I had a chance to play in New York [in the past]," said World Peace. "I wanted to play in New York in my prime, when I was young, fierce, lock-down [defender]. Madison Square Garden, that would have been sick." Well, it's not too late. To see why Knicks fans are excited, check out our profile of World Peace from three years ago, when he was still going by "Artest."
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