Why Metta World Peace rejected LeBron James back in 2009

Why Metta World Peace rejected LeBron James back in 2009

Stars teaming up has become a regular occurrence in today’s NBA, as it has become practically impossible to win it all without at least two All-Stars on your team. Many fans don’t like it because of the centralization of the league, but it has also brought some of the more attractive super-teams ever, dividing the NBA fandom. Once upon a time, that wasn’t the case, as almost every team had their main guy and tried to win it like that.

It was a different time and era, but after the Celtics formed a “Big 3” in 2008, teams and players became more active in the market, trying to recruit and pair up stars. LeBron is the best player of this generation, but after his first stint with Cleveland, he became notorious for building his teams and pairing up with multiple stars like Wade, Bosh, Irving, Love, Davis, and more. But before he went for Miami, LeBron was trying to stack up his team in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers were one of the more dominant teams in the East for the later part of the 2010s but still never able to go to the end, notching disappointing playoff exits for consecutive years. LeBron never had much help in those years, trying to go to the end alongside names like Mo Williams, Shaquille O’Neal, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao, and other role players. It was evident it wasn’t enough, as LeBron tried to get Metta World Peace (Ron Artest at the time) on board for the 2010 season, which turned out to be his last run in Cleveland, regarding his first stint.

Metta was 29 years old at the time, in his prime, and coming off a great season with the Houston Rockets. A lot of contenders wanted such a great two-way player on their team, as Metta was listening to the offers. While talking with Shannon Sharpe on his podcast, Metta revealed how he rejected LeBron back in 2009 and decided to eventually sign with the Lakers to play alongside Kobe:

“LeBron James hit me up one time when he was with the Cavs. I remember I was excited because LeBron hit me up. I’m a big fan. Even though he’s younger, I was a big fan. But before that, I didn’t want to play with Kobe, I didn’t want to play with LeBron., I didn’t want to play with T-Mac [Tracy McGrady]. I wanted to play against these guys. So when LeBron hit me up to come play for the team, I was like, ‘Um, I can’t come play. You know, because many reasons. But I said, ‘I can’t come.’ Then I was trying to go to Detroit or Indiana. That’s where I wanted to go. That’s just in me. But when no teams wanted me, after that, I didn’t call back LeBron. So then the [Los Angeles] Lakers called, I said, ‘I gotta just go because I don’t know if I’m going to get a contract.’ But, it’s not in me to play with anyone.”

Metta World Peace, Club Shay Shay

LeBron would be bounced out in playoffs again by the “Big 3” Celtics, finishing his first run in Cleveland with a disappointing and bitter taste, as many fans accused him of quitting. On the other side, Metta hit the lottery, going to the Finals and scoring maybe the most crucial shot of the series in Game 7, securing the Lakers a championship in his first season in LA. It was the brightest moment of Metta’s career, as he never regretted his decision to join Kobe over LeBron, even though maybe his presence could have helped LeBron go all the way in Cleveland at that time. We will never know how that duo would have looked, but it would have been interesting, at the least.