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“If you wasn't Michael Jordan or Tim Duncan, you was considered thug, gangster” - Metta Sandiford-Artest on the NBA media before social media

This leaves us wondering how massive Sandiford-Artest’s fanbase would have been had he played in this era.
San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan and Los Angeles Lakers small forward Metta World Peace

Tim Duncan and Metta World Peace

If you racked up five suspensions, 77 technical fouls, and 11 ejections in your entire NBA career, then you must be Metta Sandiford-Artest, formerly Metta World Peace and Ron Artest. On the other hand, Sandiford-Artest is an NBA champion, was an NBA All-Star, and won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2004. Sadly, most of us remember him for his rowdy and unsportsmanlike antics on the court. This prompted him to release his 2019 sports documentary, “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.”

Metta World Peace or Ron Artest was no Michael Jordan

In a wide-ranging interview with GQ in 2019, Sandiford-Artest expounded he felt the need to tell his story in a documentary because, unlike Michael Jordan, he had to remind people “how good Metta World Peace was as a basketball player.

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I’m not Jordan, but I have my own story that I want to tell,” Sandiford-Artest pointed out. “I get to tell some deep personal stories and move beyond this, and then launch a basketball documentary: How good Metta World Peace was as a basketball player. Other people can get right to that. Jordan doesn’t have to explain a personal story in a documentary. I have to do that… it’s just to clear things up.

The media is playing a huge role in the NBA

Given the dramatic change in the NBA media over the years, we could say Sandiford-Artest just played in the wrong era. And the man himself is also convinced that’s what his case was.

For one, Metta stressed that the NBA media wasn’t as diverse as it is today, which played a huge role in how vast audiences viewed players like him. Unlike nowadays, there’s an array of media platforms that allow fans to have a deeper look at the lives and backgrounds of the players.

Back in the days, media was different. It was all corporate—there wasn’t social media—and it was one message for the most part,” he explained. “So when I was playing, I was very disruptive. Nobody really understood that. If you wasn’t Michael Jordan or Tim Duncan, you was considered thug, gangster. That’s not the case with everyone.

In all fairness to Sandiford-Artest, he made a good point. Back then, troublesome players didn’t get that much sympathy from the fans as they only saw what the media fed them. This leaves us wondering how massive Sandiford-Artest’s fanbase would have been had he played in this era. It’s hard to tell, but perhaps, he wouldn’t have that stigma of an ultimate villain.

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