LAS VEGAS -- One reason Metta World Peace wanted to sign with the Knicks was the challenge of winning in New York.
"We all know it's the hardest place to win," said World Peace, who agreed to a two-year contract with the Knicks on Monday. "Since [the] '73 [title]. Why not take on something that's hard? Why not?"
The Knicks had the opportunity to draft World Peace, a Queens native and St. John's star, with the 15th pick in 1999, when his name was still Ron Artest. But they shocked fans going with no-name Frederic Weis.
World Peace was drafted 16th by the Bulls -- the beginning of a rollercoaster ride that included an All-Star Game (2004 with the Pacers), an NBA title (2010 with the Lakers) and a lot of games lost to suspensions.
"As a young kid growing up in the Queensbridge projects, whether you're from Brooklyn or Far Rock, you go from nothing to making a million dollars a year," he said. "And [with] so many people telling me, 'You're the best, you're the best,' you believe that and you get in trouble. And that’s what happened. And then it take 10 years to realize that you grew up in dysfunction, and you're going to continue to make mistakes if you don't change."
World Peace said Monday that signing with the Knicks wasn't his priority. He initially thought of playing football.
"Y'all know I like to be adventurous," he said. "I have no filter and I have no filter in my creativity. Very bold. I changed my name. So the thing with the Arena Football League was really appealing to me. That was something I mentioned to everybody. And I'm pushing kids to play multiple sports, like Bo Jackson did back in the day."
His second option, he said, was playing basketball in China, as he's close with Yao Ming. They played together in Houston during the 2008-09 season.
"Being in my prime, I think China would have been very inspirational," he said. "But then you get back to that orange and blue, and you know that orange-and-blue blood; you've got to come back home."
Now that he's in New York, he doesn't care what role he plays.
"Doesn't matter," said World Peace, who averaged 12.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game for the Lakers last season. "I don't care if I'm starting or sweeping the floors. You hear me? I want to win. ... It's not about one person helping one person. It's about us doing it together. They have chemistry and everybody's a teammate."
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