- Metta World Peace is back, this time as the newest member of the Big 3. Lured by his former Pacers teammates, Metta World Peace will team up with Stephen Jackson on the Killer 3s.
The man known as Metta World Peace is bringing his talents to the Big 3. On Monday, Ron Artest will announce that he’s joining former teammates Stephen Jackson and Charles Oakley as a member of the Killer 3s ahead of the league’s second season. Before the former Pacers and Lakers star and current G League coach shared his news, though, he sat down with SI.com to talk about the league, his time in the NBA, and why he’s a big fan of Lonzo Ball.
Jon Tayler: So why the Big 3?
Metta World Peace: I’m coaching also, for the South Bay Lakers. I’m joining the Big 3. Playing basketball all year. I actually played in a couple of leagues outside the NBA. I love to play basketball, so the Big 3 is cool. Some of my good friends are in it. I watched it last year and I liked it.
JT: What was the pitch like?
MWP: Stephen Jackson asked me to play with him last year, and Jermaine O’Neal too, and I told Steve that I would play with him this year. I couldn’t play last year because I was coaching, among some other stuff. But this year I’m going to do it. I made my schedule around it. It’s going to be exciting.
JT: You and Steve go a long ways back.
MWP: Yeah, I’ve known him since 2004. I was hoping he and I and Jermaine could be on the same team.
JT: We’re coming on the anniversary of that game [the Malice at the Palace] with Detroit.
MWP: I don’t even know how many years it’s been—13 or 14? It’s too long ago now [to talk about it]. I haven’t talked about it in so long.
JT: Do you ever think about that Pacers team and what could have been?
MWP: It’s one of the best I’ve ever played on—probably the best. Obviously I played with Kobe and Pau, but that team was a little bit different. The  Pacers, we had a ton of defenders, we won 61 games, I was in my prime—not even in my prime really, I was just hitting my prime. Everybody was in their prime. That’s the difference between that team and the Lakers team. And they were so deep. Definitely one of the best I’ve ever played on. When I played with Houston and Yao Ming, that team was unreal. That Lakers team with Andrew Bynum, they were unreal. Bynum was super young. He was very dominant. People forget about him, I don’t know how.
JT: If you could have a choice of one retired player to bring with you to the Big 3, who would you pick?
MWP: Jamison Brewer. I would love to play with him again. He was such a talent. Nobody understood how he played. He was way ahead of his time. He’s playing like Lonzo Ball. He’d get the ball, kick it up. Anybody who practiced against Brewer in Indiana knows who he is. But not everybody gets a shot. He was a hell of a player. People didn’t understand how to coach a player like that.
JT: You and Charles Oakley and Stephen Jackson are all now on the same team. There’s a certain kind of mentality you guys had, a real rough-nose style of play. Do you feel that’s something that still exists in today’s NBA or is that a product of a time that doesn’t exist any more?
MWP: I think it does. I think it’s back. The league was soft for a while, and it had to be. If they would’ve had the rules like they have now when I was in there, it wouldn’t have been good. But it’s getting tough again.
JT: Is there a player you look at in today’s NBA who reminds you of you?
MWP: Not really. It’s a different era. It’s hard to say this guy is like me because everything is so different now, and so athletic. But I like Kawhi, I like Draymond, I like Lonzo Ball. I’m actually surprised that I like him. He’s a point guard with a lot of hype, and I’m not usually big on those guys, but I like him because he’s not shooting a great percentage but still has a huge effect on the game. I love guys like that. When his offense gets better, he’s going to start winning games. I think he’s a winner. I feel like the Lakers are much better this year, and I don’t know if it’s because of Lonzo, but I like how he plays.
JT: Are you hoping to get back into the NBA or do you feel like your career has come to a close?
MWP: Basketball is great. You can play as long as you want. For me, I feel like I can still play basketball. So I’m in the Big 3 because I like to have fun. I love the sport, but when I was a kid, it was a different love than when I was in college, then in my first year after I was drafted, then when I signed my first big contract or won my first championship. Now’s the time when I just play basketball. But playing in the Big 3 or in the NBA, it doesn’t matter to me. I just like to work. When I’m 60 years old, I’ll still be playing in games down at the YMCA, shooting some hoops. It’s too much fun.
JT: So what’s going on for you outside of basketball?
MWT: Right now, my kids are in college. My oldest daughter is about to get her real estate license and she’s having a baby, so I’m about to be a granddaddy. My two sons got scholarship offers to the same college. My youngest daughter, she’s on a dance team in high school. My kids keep me busy. Being a dad, that’s a full-time job.
JT: Do your kids want to play professionally?
MWP: I don’t know. They’re having fun, so I don’t want to take away from that. I don’t know what they want to do, but they go to school together and play on the basketball team. I don’t get in their way, I don’t call their college coaches unless it’s something important, I don’t ask who’s recruiting them. Quite frankly, I don’t care. I only care about their well-being. But I do coach them in the summer time, and I practice with them, whenever they want to practice.
JT: One last question: Will you be going by Ron Artest or Metta World Peace in the Big 3?
MWP: Artest is going to be on the jersey. I thought it was a good choice, I thought it was smart.