Friday, April 27, 2012

Metta World Peace

    Sunrise in the Grand Canyon
           Photo by Anne Wakefield-Leck
              22 May 2012

I don’t follow professional basketball and don’t have a lick of interest in it even when its championship game is played; yet, I took notice the other day when I learned one of the more inflammatory and reckless stars of the game is named Metta World Peace.
by Charlie Leck

metta… a Pali term for lovingkindness or for the Buddhist virtue of kindness or maitri

“I ain’t kiddin’ one little bit!” That’s what a young kid, who had fetched my parked car, said to me downtown the other day. He had just told me about a basketball player named Metta World Peace and I had looked at him with squinted eyes and a tilted head. He was wearing a basketball jersey with a number on the back of it and the name World Peace lettered over the number.

“You’re kidding me,” I had said to him in disbelief.

When I got in the car, my luncheon companion said to me: “You aren’t really that stupid are you?”

“What?” I said, keeping my eyes on the busy city traffic. I really didn’t know what he was talking about.

“You ever watch the sports channel?”

“Naw! Not very often. Maybe when it’s carrying a big football game or the World Series or something!”

He directed me to a Starbucks and sat me down while he folded open his iPad and loaded up what had become a famous video of Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest. I watched the video of a moment in a professional basketball game in which Mr. World Peace threw a vicious, intentional elbow into the neck and head of an opposing basketball player. It was an incredibly violent action that made me gasp. I am not going to make it available for you here (but you can find in scattered across the internet or You Tube if you want to).

I sat and stared at the video as my friend replayed it for me.

“Is this what is wrong with the world?”

“It’s one guy,” my friend replied, “and it’s not the world!”

“But, Christ! In a basketball game? In sports? With kids watching?” I was dumbfounded and just rambling. I wished that I hadn’t just eaten lunch. “This is one reason why I don’t ever watch the NBA (National Basketball Association) or hockey,” I said quietly. The games are stupid. There’s no elegance or innocence left!

For the record, my friend didn’t agree. He told me I “didn’t get it!” Maybe he’s correct. Maybe I don’t. I must be a pansy-ass! I prefer the women’s style of basketball and I can watch those games – either college or professional – and find them terribly enjoyable. There’s something left in the way they play the game that reminds me of the pick-up games I played as a kid. And, I like women’s hockey and I’ve gone over to the arena at the University to watch a game or two.

One of my daughters likes professional basketball. I took her to a couple of games when she was a kid. For her birthday, I got us front-row seats right down at court level. You could hear what the players were saying and see the perspiration dripping from them. We could have reached out and touched them. I kept searching for something beautiful about the game. I saw plenty of skill, hued by hours and hours of practice and playing the game; but I didn’t see beauty or wonder – not the kind of thing I see when a centerfielder races away from a batter’s swing and catches up with a baseball soaring above his head and gathers it into his glove just in front of his chest as it comes down over his shoulder (Say hay, Willie Mays!) I like the quietness of a baseball park, a golf course or a sailing lake.

Ron Artest is a vicious character. This, it turns out, is not the first of the violent incidents he’s been involved in during a basketball game. The NBA Commissioner suspended him for seven (7) games for the violently thrown elbow.

“What a joke,” I said to my friend. “He should have been thrown out for the remainder of the season – at the very least!”

World Peace sent a Twitter message out to his followers…

“When two power houses collide (sic) there will be player confrontation… When you get players that are capable of being ejected, that player has to be aware of the opponent trying to get under his skin… This type of competition makes for great entertainment… When two power houses (sic) collide you will be enthralled by its art form.”

“This type of competition makes for great entertainment…”
I expect that those who sat in the Coliseum to watch the gladiators – or the Lions versus the Christians – thought the same thing.

Next week the professional golfers move to the Quail Hollow Club, in Charlotte (NC), and I’ll spend some time in front of the television watching them maneuver the small, white ball around that gorgeous golf course. It will be a beautiful and graceful thing to watch – a sport, I suppose, for pansies.

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1 comment:

  1. Too many people still think that the path to world peace is violence.