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Lakers choose money over World Peace

July 11, 2013|By Eric Pincus

Back when Metta World Peace was still named Ron Artest, the always-interesting forward helped the Lakers defeat the rival Boston Celtics with a big Game 7.

World Peace scored 20 points on seven-for-18 shooting, including a huge three-pointer with 1:01 left in the 2010 NBA Finals to help cement the win that clinched the Lakers' most recent championship.

His postgame news conference was an all-time classic. His play with the Lakers through four seasons wasn't always consistent but World Peace was a locker-room favorite among teammates and the media.

On Thursday, the Lakers made a difficult business decision, choosing to save about $15 million by waiving World Peace through the amnesty process.

It's hard to argue against the choice. Would any team estimate his value as a player at $15 million? Instead the Lakers signed the good-natured Nick Young, presumably to start at small forward in the absence of World Peace.

"It’s tough to say goodbye to a player such as Metta, who has been a significant part of our team the past four seasons. For anyone who’s had the opportunity to get to know him, it’s impossible not to love him,” General Manager Mitch Kupchak said in a prepared statement.

“He has made many contributions to this organization, both in his community work as well as in our games; perhaps no more so than in his clutch play in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals in helping to lead us over the Celtics in one of the greatest playoff wins in Lakers history. We thank Metta for all his contributions and wish him the best of luck in the future.”

This was a believably hard decision for the team.  Whatever demons World Peace had to work through before arriving in Los Angeles -- his charge into the crowd in Auburn Hills, Mich., to confront a fan in 2004 that led to almost an entire season's suspension -- the man the Lakers got in Artest/World Peace was a kind and generous soul.

He was truly dedicated to improving himself and helping others -- auctioning his championship ring to charity, promoting mental health awareness.

Players come and go -- that's the nature of the NBA.

Nothing lasts forever, but the absence of World Peace is tough to overcome.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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