The decision to draft Frederic Weis over Ron Artest has remained one of the more confounding moves made by the Knicks during these everlasting dark ages, but fans can take solace in knowing that the man now known as Metta World Peace says there’s no one to blame but himself.
The revelation came during a media blitz for a new documentary about Artest’s life that premiered last night on Showtime, called “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.” Speaking to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, World Peace explained that a night of partying caused him to skip a planned pre-draft workout with the Knicks, which didn’t sit well with the team.
Metta World Peace tells the Daily News the real reason he didn’t get drafted by the Knicks https://t.co/yaq4L7yabQ— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) May 31, 2019
“Honestly, I caused that,” World Peace said, according to Bondy. “Because I was getting in trouble. I didn’t show up to my first Knick tryout. I was partying the night before in New York. I was f--ked up. I had my Knicks tryout the next day. I got drunk in Westchester, in the hotel, like, ‘Yo I can’t make it out the bed.’”
He hoped to still have a chance, telling the Knicks that he would come back to New York at a later date to show the team’s brass what he could do, but his efforts bore no fruit.
“And I’m like, ‘I’m coming to New York anyway, I’m not tripping,’” he told Bondy. “I said, ‘I’ll just come back another time and work out.’ That’s what I said. And they was like, ‘F--k out of here.’”
Until now, most of us have been operating under the assumption that when the Knicks took Weiss over Artest, it was just another silly front office decision made for, well, reasons unknown. In 2003, Artest told the media that he missed that work out because of an upset stomach, which makes sense, seeing as an upset stomach is often a symptom of excessive drinking.
As for whether the Knicks knew that the issue was partying, it’s not clear, although it doesn’t matter all that much. If you had a job interview and simply didn’t show without giving reasonable advance warning as well as an acceptable excuse, it’s unlikely the employer would just let you come in a few days later. They would look elsewhere. That’s just how the world works.
“I wish I could’ve went to the Knicks,” World Peace said. “That’s where I wanted to go.”
Not that it changes history or anything, but it’s nice to know that the Knicks might have had an actual reason for using the 15th pick of the 1999 NBA draft to take Weiss over Artest. Weiss, a 7’2” center from France, would go on to play zero games with the Knicks. He is most well-known for being put on a poster by Vince Carter during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
For those who are unaware, the New York Times wrote an in-depth story on Weiss back in 2015 that features a ton of crazy information, including that inner demons once drove him to a suicide attempt. If you haven’t read it, read it now. Well, read it after you finish this piece.
Back to Artest, er, World Peace. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th pick in that draft, but if we’re being real, it would have probably ended up being a disaster if the Knicks had taken him back in the day. The team was about to go off the rails for two decades and counting, and the early years of Artest’s career, while filled with some exceptional play — particularly on the defensive side of the ball — could have been truly disastrous if he had been in New York.
Instead of the Malice in the Palace, it could have been the Battle in the Big Apple, and brawls are bad for business.
In a separate interview, World Peace praised Donnie Walsh, who was a Pacers executive during his time in Indiana. Walsh, of course, would go on to work for the Knicks, and he did a pretty good job clearing cap space leading up to the summer of 2010, when Amar’e Stoudemire famously declared that the Knicks were back.
“Donnie was the most supportive person,” World Peace told Complex. “During my NBA career, Donnie Walsh went literally, like a New Yorker, went to bat for me. He really wanted to see me succeed. I’m not saying no one else didn’t, but Donnie Walsh, I’ve never met someone that has supported, man, when I was rapping, Donnie Walsh told me “Keep rapping.”
The Knicks didn’t hold onto their grudge against World Peace forever, signing the forward for the 2013-14 season. He was no longer quite the guy who won Defensive Player of the Year, playing 29 total games as a ‘Bocker and averaging 4.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 13 minutes per game.
“It was a different time,” he told Bondy, of his tenure with the Knicks. “But people that know Metta, Ron Artest, me from St. John’s – they were happy,” World Peace said. “I had a chance to put on the jersey. I was happy with that. I’m cool with that.”