Metta Sandiford-Artest Reflects on Winning the 2010 Championship over the Boston Celtics: ‘Somebody Was Looking After Me’

He came into the NBA as Ron Artest in 1999. Then he changed his name to Metta World Peace in the middle of his 17-year career. Now, he’s Metta Sandiford-Artest.

It took Sandiford-Artest 11 years to win a championship in the NBA. That came in 2010 when playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, the fifth of his six teams. It all came together for him that season when the Lakers outlasted the rival Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals, and he admitted that “somebody was looking after me” when he reminisced about his career with former Laker Byron Scott.

Metta Sandiford-Artest worked his way into becoming an NBA All-Star

Metta World Peace of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates the buzzer-beating three-point basket by teammate D’Angelo Russell to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves on April 9, 2017, in Los Angeles, California. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images.

Sandiford-Artest was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 1999 NBA Draft. After playing collegiately at St. John’s, he spent two-plus seasons with the Bulls before being traded to the Indiana Pacers in February 2002.

Sandiford-Artest was known for his fiery personality. He certainly racked up his share of technical fouls. At 6-foot-7, he was often matched up against bigger and stronger players, but he never backed down. With a defense-first mindset, Sandiford-Artest played a physical game that sometimes got him into trouble.

He certainly found trouble on Nov. 19, 2004, at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Michigan. Then known as Ron Artest, he found himself involved in one of the biggest brawls in NBA history — the Malice at the Palace.

It started when Artest fouled Detroit’s Ben Wallace, who was going in for a layup. Wallace was upset by the foul and showed Artest, beginning an on-court fight. When things settled down, a fan threw a drink at Artest, who was lying across the scorer’s table.

Artest raced into the stands to confront the fan, escalating the situation that resulted in fans coming onto the floor and more players running into the stands. Nine players were suspended. Five players and five fans were charged with assault. The game never finished.

Artest was traded by the Pacers to the Sacramento Kings in January 2006. He also played briefly for the Houston Rockets before signing with the Lakers in July 2009.

Sandiford-Artest grateful for his championship with the Lakers

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Sandiford-Artest admitted he didn’t know if he’d make it in the NBA. He knew his defense would give him an opportunity, but he didn’t know how long he could last as a professional.

Not only did he spend 17 years in the league, but he also rebounded from that horrific night in Detroit by winning a championship with the Lakers in 2010, defeating the Celtics in seven games.

“It was a great feeling because it summed up my career,” Sandiford-Artest told Scott during an appearance on the Byron Scott Podcast. “When I got to the Lakers, I started working hard. Like, I knew I was a winner, but I didn’t know I was gonna be good offensively.

“When things started to come around, I knew I could win, and I knew I wanted to win. When my career was stalling — the Indiana days when I was getting in a lot of trouble and in my prime — I was like, maybe I won’t get an opportunity again. Then 2010 comes around. We win a title, and it just capped off the individual accolades with the team accolades.

“It was such a great feeling because I actually was a part of it, and it was with Kobe, and it was against the Celtics. My goodness, somebody was looking after me and knew that after everything I’d been through, that I really wanted that, and they put me on a bigger stage with the biggest rivalry in sports.”