A looming presence marched his way down the red carpet on Wednesday before the 2014 ESPY awards in downtown Los Angeles. A familiar voice shouted into microphones and tape recorders as he bounced from one reporter to the next.
Yes, Metta World Peace was back in Los Angeles, eager to share a litany of laughs. So, of course, that entailed offering this outlandish explanation for why the Lakers ended last season with a 27-55 record, the worst mark in L.A. franchise history.
“They took a break. Sometimes you have to go to sleep and take a break,” World Peace said. “They’re like a sleeping bear. They’ll wake up out of hibernation and then get back on top.”
But when will that happen?
The Lakers struck out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. Pau Gasol willingly left for less money in hopes to win an NBA title with Chicago. The Lakers do not have a head coach. Who knows if Kobe Bryant’s full recovery from injuries to his left Achilles tendon and left knee will allow the Lakers’ star both to survive next season without a major injury, let alone play as effectively as he did before his Achilles tear nearly 15 months ago.
“He told me he’s going to come back and carry the team. I believe him,” said World Peace, who still believes Bryant can win another championship before his current contract ends in two years. “If he wants to, he can get it. If he wants something that bad, he can get it.”
Bryant might need some help though. His supporting cast currently entails Steve Nash, Julius Randle, Jeremy Lin, Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre, Kendall Marshall, Ed Davis and Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers still will round out the rest of the roster. After waiving him prior to last season through the amnesty provision, would the Lakers give World Peace another chance?
A source familiar with World Peace’s thinking said he would love either playing with the Lakers or Clippers so he could stay in Los Angeles, or return back to the Knicks after they waived him last season through a buyout. But there is a sense that if the Lakers have had contact with World Peace’s representatives, those discussions currently has not advanced beyond anything preliminary. World Peace politely declined to talk about any NBA teams, but he said teams from China, Russia and Turkey are also interested in him.
“I’m not retiring from basketball because I’m in great shape,” said World Peace, who said he has healed from a right knee injury that hampered him last season. “I don’t know why I’d retire when I’m in great shape. There’s a couple of teams that we might be looking at. But they’re trying to find guys they believe can help them win a championship. They might be looking in the wrong direction. There’s no better direction than picking up me.”
Well, there is surely one exception. LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat for the Cleveland Cavaliers changed the NBA landscape.
“LeBron walked into a gold mine. He went from one team to a better team. They’re definitely the better team,” World Peace said of Cleveland. “I don’t know if the rings will come. I’m just saying he walked into a gold mine.”
Partly because World Peace hardly offered a ringing endorsement on the rest of the Eastern Conference teams.
“They’re all pretty bad,” World Peace said. “They need some seasoning and salt.”
Or in his view, World Peace, a man who appears in mid-season form with his quotes while trying to prove he will become just as effective on the court.
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org