When you hear the name Ron Artest/Metta World Peace/Metta Sandiford-Artest, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the Malice in the Palace. Being the protagonist in NBA’s most famous brawl, that fight marked his career. After that, Artest was labeled as a problematic character, and that reputation overshadowed facts – Metta is really good at basketball.
Even his defensive specialist status doesn’t tell the whole story. In his prime, Artest was good for 20. His best season in Indiana, the one interrupted by the suspension, Artest was posting a 24.6/6.4/3.1. That’s a helluva ballplayer right there. But Artest knew defense was his bread and butter, and he willingly sacrificed numbers to play on a competitive team. It was all about defense.
In that area, he considered himself the best. Everyone has at least one weird matchup, a player they hate seeing coming up on the schedule. It doesn’t have to be the best guy in the league, but somehow you can’t figure him out. Sandiford-Artest didn’t think that way. For him, there was no matchup he shied away from.
“I would say I could guard anybody. I felt I was the best defender; I always felt like my defense was better than people’s offense. No matter who I was up against, my job that night was to be better than you on defense. That’s how I thought about my game. So I never really have a chance to say I didn’t like to go against someone.”Metta Sandiford-Artest, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
In Artest’s eyes, the greater the player he stopped just made a more compelling case for him being one of the greatest wing defenders of all time. That’s exactly what Metta thinks he is. Before he mentioned it, I have to admit I never gave much thought to that category.
6-6, 260lb, fearless and ready to go up against anybody – Metta Sandiford-Artest would make my list for sure. You never completely stop guys like LeBron or Kobe. But if you want to slow them down and make them work 100% on every possession? You can’t go wrong with Artest.