Below is an edited transcript of part 1 of my Q&A with Lakers veteran forward Metta World Peace, who talked in depth about his interest in coaching during a recent lunch interview with Los Angeles News Group.
How did you get interested in coaching?
World Peace: “It started when I first started playing basketball, I went to five star basketball camp back in 1999. It was fun. I coached Danny Green. He was one of my players. I remember him being the best on the team and I remember him sometimes not shooting. I would tell him to shoot. I was like, ‘Shoot the ball. Shoot the ball.’ It was fun. He remembers it too. That was when I was 19 or 20. I was young.
I always wanted to learn the game because I was never athletic. I picked the triangle offense quick in Chicago. I picked it up pretty well under Bill Cartwright. Then in Indiana, I was picking up everything quickly. I was young. But with all the defensive coverages I faced, was picking up everything. I was also giving input, not verbally but by example. Coach Carlisle said something one day I might be able to be a coach. I was 24 when he said that. I was confident when he said that. I have continued to coach. I have a little league team called ‘Triple Threat.’ I train people. Triple Threat was a team that my foundation funded. It was a team that we funded. I would coach them sometimes.”
Also, the Fordham job was open this year. I applied for that job. IBy that time, I was in Italy when that job opened up. We applied when I was in Italy. I applied for the St. John’s job. My agent called him. People must have thought I wouldn’t want to coach because I’m still playing, I might not want to coach. But I prepared for both. People can see I can still play. But I like to coach, so I prepare for both.
This summer, I coached a lot. I coached in Drew League. I coached at Equinox and Venice Beach. I had practices. I coached at Palisades’ girls team as an assistant coach. All the other places, I was the head coach. We ran plays. Some of the practices I’m teaching them how to run plays. I’m teaching the kids how to run plays to get them ready so they know the terminology. It’s something I enjoy.”
What did you do at Palisades?
World Peace: “I would go in there, do some drills and listen to coach [Torino Johnson]. I went to practices and games. I sat on the end of the bench. I like to be at the end so I can talk to players when they come out of the game. I tell them things I see. We won 20 games in a row. That was a hell of an experience. This season, the coach texts me and calls me. We’ll then talk about the game.”
Will you coach them again this summer?
World Peace: “In the summer, yeah. In the summer time, the girls practice with the boys. I’ll work with the boys and girls and go through different drills and get them ready for the season. It’s slightly different. I teach fundamentals. I want to get them ready for college and professional basketball. We work on a lot of fundamental things off the ball. Basketball is evolving. You have to be able to play off the ball.”
So how serious are you about wanting to coach?
World Peace: “I want to coach one day. I definitely have interest in coaching. But I want people to know I’m staying in tip top shape. Just because I want to coach doesn’t mean I’m retiring. If something opens up, I might apply for the job. It doesn’t mean I’m not staying in tip top shape. I’m not a player where I want to coach because I’m done playing basketball. I love playing basketball. I’m preparing for both.”
How many more years do you think you can play?
World Peace: “I don’t know. The other day, I’m backpedaling and [Chase] Budinger is coming at me full speed. I backpedal and steal the ball. Another guy, I came in full speed and got in front of him. I can still make a move over him. I’m hustling and changing games. I can increase my energy. I didn’t even go to the block yet. I’m interested to see once I start posting up more how that’s going to work. That’s something I’m interested to see before I can official retire. I don’t know.”
Have you ever talked to the Lakers about coaching?
World Peace: Yeah, this summer before I had the player contract. That’s why I came in to help Julius. I knew I wanted to play. But there wasn’t an opportunity. So I thought, ‘Maybe I can coach.’ I was in there with Julius [Randle]. He had a big game the other day, 19 rebounds. Man, I was in there with Julius and working with him and getting my feel in case I may be a player development coach or whatever. My goal is one day to be a head coach for a couple of years. I don’t want a 20-year coaching career. Maybe 5 or 10 years. I want to win a championship.”
Are you willing to go through the grind in working you way up, whether it’s starting out in the D-League, a player development coach or assistant coach?
World Peace: “Absolutely. Any way. If a head coaching job is available and they’d offer it, absolutely. We’ll look at it. If another thing opened up, we’ll definitely look at it. I’m not afraid of doing this. I’m totally not afraid of it. At this point in my career, I could start on any team in the NBA. I could start at small forward for any team in the NBA and compete. I’m not afraid to take on any head coaching job. I’m very very confident. I’m very confident.”
Do you understand the skepticism, though? As smart as you are, you still have the reputation that you’re goofy and there’s concern on if you could adapt from a mentor toward being a coach.
World Peace: “I’m a goofball. I’m always going to be that. I’m not going to change. If I got a coaching job, I’m going to continue to laugh and have fun. Life is too short. I’ll continue to laugh, have fun and say things that’s funny in the media. Why not? Have fun and work hard. We’re having a losing season. Sometimes you can’t control everything. You still have to work hard out there.
So people can never question how hard I work. That’s all I care about. That’s why I feel okay coming to the locker room after every game, enjoying my teammates and enjoying the media. I know when I’m out there, I know for a fact I’m giving 100%. I’m not worried about it.”
So when did Rick Carlisle tell you that he could see you coaching?
World Peace: “In 2004 before the Brawl. He said it to the media. When I read it, I was like, ‘Wow.’ He’s a great coach. When he said it, it boosted my ego. He really shouldn’t have said anything to me that would boost my ego. I had this ego that was unstable if you said anything about me good or bad. It really went to my head. But he said that. I thought I was this hot shot and I did selfish things. I spoke to Rick a couple of times this year. I spoke to him when I was in China and I spoke to him when I was in Italy. I asked him about coaching and I asked him about players and the game.
What did you ask him about coaching?
World Peace: “It’s more about the game. I’ve talked to Rick Adelman, Luke Walton and Bernie Bickerstaff too. I ask Luke what he does at shootarounds and what is he implementing. I’ll ask Rick [Carlisle] about plays. He calls a lot of plays. He’s different. Phil Jackson is a system coach. He sits back. Rick Carlisle is up and he’s dictating. That’s the hardest way to coach. People don’t understand that is hard to do. Sometimes you’re going to be in a situation where you have to dictate.
That’s why a lot of players don’t get Rick. But he’s putting you putting you in a position to win. I used to hate that every time down he’s calling the plays. He’s dictating and we have to do exactly what he says. I wanted to freelance. I used to hate it. We would complain, ‘Why is he calling the play every single time?’ We used to hate it. But it worked.”
Have you talked to Byron Scott?
World Peace: “I’m talking to B. Scott a lot. I’m talking about how he’s dealing with the young players. That’s tough. But B. Scott has it tough. He has a tough job. He has a legend who is retiring [Kobe Bryant]. Young players who are still learning. He had me coming in and you don’t know what you’re going to get because am I injured or am I not. Under the Lakers banner. That’s a lot of pressure. I’m learning how to deal with players.”
What has Byron told you?
World Peace: “We have to keep working with them. You have to work with them. He pushes you mentally and he’s going to test you mentally. I learned a lot. I was able to get through a B. Scott training camp. That was tough. At this age, it was tough. I’m in shape and playing well. I can play and appreciate it now. But when you have to run, you think this is ridiculous. But now that you can play a full 48-minute game, you appreciate it.”
What do you make of the criticism Byron has gotten? It’s not about just the losses. But more about how Byron has played Kobe a lot of minutes and allowed him to shoot a lot and that he’s not closing out with D’Angelo Russell at the end of games.
World Peace: “Coach can’t play for us. At the end of the day, coach is out there coaching and putting us in the best position to succeed. Coach is not turning the ball over. Coach is not in the post making post moves. Coach isn’t Kobe missing shots. We can’t blame Coach for that. You can’t blame Coach for a young player on a fast break not completing a fast break. How do you blame Coach for that? You can’t blame Coach for us not boxing out. We have to take some responsibility. Guys have to take responsibility. I’m taking my responsibility. He really shouldn’t be receiving any criticism. You don’t turn the ball over.”
Have you addressed your teammates about that?
World Peace: Yeah, I’m always direct with the guys. I’m always direct. Everybody has to take responsibility. You can’t put it all on coach. You have to put it on all of us. I want the guys to know they need to team ball. Sometimes you think that just because you’re a high pick, that it’s about you. I tell them it’s not. It’s still about the team. Even if you get $150 million, it’s still about the team. It’s not their fault. It’s just that in this day and age, everybody is promoting the individual. They don’t promote team.
Kobe is going out on this retirement tour. It’s only Kobe. All those years Luke Walton, Lamar Odom and DJ Mbenga, those guys are forgotton about. That’s not what the game is supposed to be about. But if you want to win, you have to understand that you’re going to get a lot of accolades and a lot of rewards individually. But it’s always team first.”
What have you thought about the hoopla surrounding Bryant’s retirement?
World Peace: “It’s been cool. But Kobe wants to win. I know for a fact Kobe wants to win. Look how he played against Washington He wants to win. It’s not even the points. I was more interested in the fourth quarter. He stepped it up. He was playing against a young team and they couldn’t guard him. Come on man. They couldn’t guard him. That was pretty embarrassing. They’re not giving him any fouls either. He’s getting hit. He went to the hole the other day and got hit in the chest.”
Doesn’t the NBA take care of the stars?
World Peace: “They just want to take care of LeBron. They only take care of LeBron.”
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