‘A Big Fan’: Metta Sandiford-Artest Reveals Why He Turned Down a Chance to Play with LeBron James

Published 08/12/2021, 11:53 PM EDT
Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) participates during a practice session before Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on Tuesday, June 7, 2016. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group) (Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)


The acquisitions in the NBA have as much to do with key players making the calls as the scouts and front office. Remember how Kevin Durant helped with the James Harden trade to Brooklyn or how Kawhi Leonard supported the Clippers with Paul George. In the past, LeBron James had also made one such move to help a signing but had surprisingly failed.

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Back in the days, a young LeBron was trying everything to help the Cavaliers win their first NBA title. A part of that job role was attracting the right talent in the team that can help him get stronger. So he decided to call Metta World Peace to play alongside him. What happened next?

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Ron Artest revealed his straight denial to LeBron James

In a recent interview with retired American football player Shannon Sharpe, Metta World Peace remembered those early days. Metta started off by claiming that he’d never join an All-Star as a 26-YO in his prime because he believes in building his own legacy. Later, the 41-YO backed his claim with a true example.

He recalled a King James story and revealed, “I’m honored. LeBron James hit me up one time when he was with the Cavs. I remember I was excited because LeBron, I’m a big fan, even if younger. But before that, I didn’t want to play with Kobe, I didn’t wanna play with Bron… I wanted to play against these guys. So I’s like, I can’t come play because of many reasons.” 

At the age of 26, Ron Artest was dealing with a transition from Indiana Pacers to Sacramento Kings. With the Kings, he enjoyed his career-best season and eventually ended up with Kobe Bryant after a stint in Houston. 

Lakers’ Ron Artest speaks about his life to a Los Angeles Times via Getty Images reporter at the Hilton Garden Inn in El Segundo. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

As he added, “I was trying to go to Detroit and in the end, that’s where I wanted to go. But when no teams wanted me, I didn’t call back LeBron. So then the Lakers called, and I just got to go because I’m not going to get contract.”

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Metta Sandiford’s many brawls that made him the bad boy

From hitting Michael Jordan and elbowing James Harden, to head-locking LeBron James, Ron-Ron has done loads of nasty things. As he later confessed, “I’ve chewed a lot of people in the game. I’ve busted a lot of a**. I don’t need to play with an All-Star.”

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So he was not the guy who would please everyone or shake hands with a rival just to win championships. No wonder he spent most of his career with teams that had slight chances towards a title victory. 

Most notably, people remember the 1x All-Star small forward for the infamous Malice in the Palace incident in 2004. That notorious brawl between Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons is now a Netflix documentary. Certainly, Metta World Peace was less peaceful and more competitive on the lines of greats.

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Do you think it was the right decision on his part to deny Cavs’ LeBron support? Help us know your opinion in the comments below.

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Sourabh Singh

1589 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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