The NBA has seen its fair share of fights and altercations on the court involving players, coaches, and sometimes even fans. But quite possibly the biggest and most notorious one was the fight between Metta World Peace (Ron Artest at the time) and Ben Wallace, which turned into an all-out brawl between the Pacers and the Pistons that spilled over into the crowd. The incident was massive, and it resulted in huge fines and suspensions all around, as the fight got named “The Malice at the Palace.”
Metta was a real bad boy of the 2000’s NBA, known for his tough and confrontational demeanor. A tremendous defensive and all-around player who was on the verge of becoming an All-Star, World Peace had a place in the league, but his antics were making him a villain in the eyes of many. Losing his temper and cheap shooting opponents wasn’t a rare occurrence, as his actions eventually caught up to him and gave him a bad reputation.
But what many didn’t know, Metta was having personal problems at the time regarding his mental health. Metta was aware of his situation and trying to get better at controlling his temper for the sake of his team. He actually had a professional with him at all times, even on road trips, to work on his issues. So when the most infamous fight of his career broke out, Metta actually wanted to avoid it and be the peacemaker.
Metta appeared on the Club Shay Shay podcast and talked with former NFL player and FS1 Analyst Shannon Sharpe about that day. Metta revealed how he tried to apologize to Ben before the situation got out of control but without much success.
“I was doing therapy sessions like every day, so anytime I was getting an issue, like when I fouled Ben, and he pushed me the first thing that I did, they don’t show this, the first thing I did was like this, apologizing: ‘My bad Ben!’ But Ben was so mad he just pushed me. I ain’t get a chance to be like: ‘My bad.’ So I was like this, and it’s clear as day on camera when he pushed me normally, I would go back. I mean, if I’m not afraid of Alonzo Mourning, I’m not afraid of Ben Wallace.”Metta World Peace, Club Shay Shay
We all remember the iconic image of Metta lying down on the scorers’ table to calm down, only to get hit by a drink from a fan. He elaborated this was a part of his therapy – every time he felt stressed, Metta would count to five to give himself time to think and calm down. Ironically, that’s when World Peace lost control after getting hit by the bottle, and the rest is history.
Eventually, Metta became more calm and patient with his actions throughout his career, even though he would still have his days. Just ask James Harden. Now Metta is in retirement and a real spokesman for mental health and raising awareness on this important topic. The best way to lead is by example, and it’s great to see Metta doing just that.