Pandas find friend in World Peace
Updated: 2014-08-08 13:29
New York Knicks small forward Metta World Peace (51) celebrate with a teammate during the first half of an NBA game against the Boston Celtics at Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, RI, Oct 9, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]
Ex-NBA star Metta World Peace, who was born Ron Artest, marked his entry into the China Basketball Association in typical high-style, confirming his second name change in three years to "The Pandas Friend".
The 34-year-old posted on social media on Thursday that his new name is "The Pandas Friend" rather than "Panda Friend" as news and netizens had recently reported.
"Guys, my Chinese name is not Panda Friend, it's The Panda's Friend," read the post from the online tag @MettaWorldPeace.
Meanwhile, China's social media kept up the red-hot buzz on World Peace news. The topic "World Peace signs with CBA" reached 26.97 million hits on Sina Weibo by Friday afternoon and a new topic "World Peace changes name" has now received 86 million hits.
Followers of the account called "Metta_World_Peace" have reached 967,845, a nearly 600 people's increase from two days ago.
World Peace, who played for the Lakers from 2009-2010 through 2012-2013, changed his name from Ron Artest by filing a legal petition in September 2011.
Known in China as "Ci Shiping", a literal translation of "Metta World Peace", the former NBA All-Star is now apparently cozy with China's iconic emblem the giant panda. The rare animals live primarily in bamboo forests of southwestern China's Sichuan province, home of his new team the Sichuan Blue Whales.
In a one-year deal worth $1.4 million, "The Pandas Friend" became one of the highest-paid players in the CBA, and the latest in a series of former NBA stars, including Stephon Marbury and Tracy McGrady, seeking glory in China at the end of their careers.
He averaged 13.8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals during his 15 NBA seasons and won an NBA title with the Lakers in 2010.
The Sichuan Blue Whales, in their first CBA campaign, finished 12th in the 18-team circuit in the past season, posting a record of 14-20.