New Knicks forward Metta World Peace blocked out some time for a Q&A session with Post columnist Steve Serby.
Q: How would you describe your on-court mentality?
A: It changed. It used to be: destroy. It used to be run through anybody. No friends. Too much passion. Too much uncontrollable passion. Now it’s more like focus, focus, focus, every single time on the court.
Q: What prompted that change?
A: Just intelligence, from experience. What does it actually take to win?
Q: Are you a trash talker?
A: I’m a trash talker when I’m bored. I’m a trash talker when I’m down. I’m not a trash talker when I’m up. Most people trash talk when they’re up. I’d rather talk trash when I’m down. I’d rather talk trash when nothing’s going in my favor. I don’t like to be a front runner.
Q: Who’s the best trash talker in the NBA?
A: Paul Pierce is the only one left.
Q: Is he good?
A: He’s the best.
Q: What about Kevin Garnett?
A: Paul Pierce is the best.
Q: You used to dominate him, correct?
A: But I never talked trash, I’m not a trash talker.
Q: Tell me about your matchups with him.
A: It was wars. It was competitive. I love Paul. I love playing against Paul. He’s just so tough, he’s just so tough.
Q: What do you think about the Brooklyn Nets talking about taking over this town?
A: They should be able to talk and say exactly what they want to say.
Q: Do you think this still is a Knicks town?
A: That’s up to the fans. My job is to just to go out there and play.
Q: Could you imagine what this city would be like if the Knicks won a championship?
A : I think right now I’m just not gonna think about it, ’cause when you start thinking about things like that, you kinda forget what you’re supposed to do. I think the main thing for me is to be the best I could be, to help this team be the best that we could be.
Q: Did winning a championship with the Lakers make you hungrier to win a second ring?
A: I always wanted to win multiple rings, but when you’re dysfunctional, you don’t have no advantages.
Q: What do you mean?
A: Like when your head is not in the game. I had a period of time for a couple of years where my head wasn’t in the game. And when you are out of the game mentally, you lose out on championships.
Q: Is that a regret?
A: No, it’s not a regret. It’s just reality.
Q: What made you dysfunctional?
A: Your parents separated, your environment’s dysfunctional … not a strong household … survival-of-the-fittest-type of environments. And it causes a child to be dysfunctional. Your child can’t focus on life itself, which is supposed to be pure and beautiful … fun.
Q: There were things going on in your life that prevented you from focusing the way you needed to?
A: When you’re raised a certain way, some people are scarred mentally, and they don’t know how to get over it. Some people don’t know that they’ve been scarred mentally, which is worse, when you don’t actually know that you’ve been scarred.
Q: You’re talking about your parents separating?
A: They separated when I was 13 years old. I think any child’s parents that separate them will scar them, especially if the other experiences added on to that. It just adds up. And after a while it makes you who you are. And then you gotta realize who you are, then see who you want to be. Then after you figure out the person that you want to be, then you gotta try to accomplish that. … You know who you want to be when you’re a child. You know exactly what type of life, what type of world you want to live in.
Q: Is this what you imagined as a child?
A: Oh no, this is more of a fantasy dream playing in the NBA. You want to do that, but to actually do it, it’s kinda crazy.
Q: Describe Kobe Bryant as a teammate.
A: He’s a competitor. … Five rings, I mean, what more could you say?
Q: The Malice at the Palace.
A: I wrote a book about it, son. I think I’m gonna wait to talk about it. But I wrote a book about that whole experience.
Q: When’s it coming out?
A: I think next summer.
Q: Do you think it affected your reputation?
A: Maybe like 500,000 people still talk about it, or a million people. But the other 6.9 billion people in the world, I think they got other things to worry about, you know — from the economy, to Middle East problems, to starvation in some countries, to girl trafficking in some countries, to gang violence. There’s so many other problems in the world.
Q: But given those same circumstances, would you react the same today?
A: I don’t think about it. There’s nothing to think about.
Q: You want to wait until that book comes out.
A: If that same thing happened today, I don’t think about those situations.
Q: But you lost $5 million right?
A: It was more than that.
Q: What was that period like away from basketball.
A: I just got through it. I prayed the one night. I asked God, “Is this what’s supposed to happen to me?” He said, “Yes, this is the point in your life where this is supposed to happen,” and I just moved on.
Q: Who do you think plays as hard as you do?
A: Before, I probably was the hardest, but now there’s a lot of guys. As I get older, there’s a lot of guys catching up. I was able to play hard, I was able to guard [power forwards and point guards], which is pretty difficult to do. You can play hard but there’s only so much you can do if you’re limited. And I think at times physically, I wasn’t limited.
Q: Describe Carmelo Anthony as a teammate.
A: He has that special thing about him that great players have, so I’m excited that I got a chance to play with him.
Q: Andrea Bargnani.
A: A lot of big men’s gonna be pulled out. They gotta guard him. You can’t leave him open, which is pretty amazing.
Q: Who else in the NBA could have their own comedy tour?
A: Iman. … Iman Shumpert is so funny.
Q: Describe Isiah Thomas.
A: I wish he’d never got fired in Indiana. I thought we were gonna do great things that next year. Great coach, great coach.
Q: You used to be called “The Beast.”
A: The Beast was never my name. They call me Tru Warier. That was what they called me from uptown, uptown near Harlem. I got my name from Harlem.
Q: Tell me about the time you broke Michael Jordan’s ribs.
A: It was a pickup game, he was posting me up, and I tried to get the ball accidentally. The next day I heard his rib’s broken. I was like, “Wow.” Then he called me and said don’t worry about it. And I told him, “I’m sorry.”
Q: Fill in the blank: If I were NBA commissioner, I would …
A: I don’t know. … I don’t want to be NBA commissioner.
Q: It’s a good-paying job.
A: It’s a great-paying job, but … too many responsibilities.
Q: Fill in the blank: If I were president of the United States, I would …
A: If I was president of the United States … I would have probably my own sports bar.
Q: Why would you have to be president to do that?
A: ‘Cause I would. I would (smile).
Q: You’re a big NFL fan?
A: I love the Jets. No. 1 team … in the world.
Q: Do you know any of the players?
A: All I know is Rex Ryan, that’s it. And I hate that we got rid of [Tim] Tebow.
A: Tebow, he don’t lose, he wins. Name one time he lost. I don’t understand this stuff. He didn’t play. He wins games. What more could you ask for?
Q: You thought you could play tight end in the NFL?
A: I wanted to try a long time ago, but I just don’t think I’m gonna be able to do it because I’m playing basketball and I still want to play. It’s like that windows’s shut.
Q: Did you contact any NFL teams?
A: I contacted Terrell [Owens]. I called his agent, his agent never called me back. I contacted a couple of other agents, they didn’t call me back. So I’m like, “You know what? The hell with those guys,” you know? Terrell was gonna help train me a little bit, but I was gonna try and get an agent so I could at least see if I suck or if I’m good.
Q: You think it’s too late?
A : I’m more focused on the Knicks now. I only bring those times up when my contract is up. When my contract is up, if my body feels good, I start to think football.
Q: When was the last time you played football?
A: I played every day in the summertime. We just played two- hand touch, it’s not like I played with the pros. I’m sure it’s hard. I would totally have done it. If I had the opportunity at 36, I would try.
Q: After basketball, would music be a full-time career for you?
A: No. I do it for fun. I don’t do it to go on … I do go on tour. But only when I want to. I do it strictly for fun.
Q: Would you say you’re an interesting or complex guy?
A: I just think I do things that people want to do. I don’t have a shell. And I don’t have a filter. Some people do.
Q: Is it fun being that way, without a filter?
A: Yeah, it’s fun. It’s fun being free, and not letting somebody else tell you that you’re not allowed to be free, ’cause it’s not true. It’s an unwritten rule that says you’re not allowed to be free — but that’s not true.
Q: Coaches have raved about your smarts.
A: I know I could definitely coach. I pay attention.
Q: Is that something you would want?
Q: Why not?
A: I’d rather have a talk show. … I’d rather do comedy.
Q: Who would be your sidekick?
A: I got a couple in mind right now … some local guys.
Q: You’re serious about a talk show at some point.
A: That’s why I don’t want to do commentating on like TNT or ESPN? ’cause there’s too many filters. I don’t want a filter.
Q: So your show would be unique.
A: Oh yeah! ( laugh).
Q: Well what kind of guests would you have that other people wouldn’t have?
A: Well, I can’t say now because I’m afraid that somebody might take my idea. Truthfully, I am. I’m gonna be playing for another, what, five years?
Q: How was your trip to Kenya?
A: I stayed in a good hotel. I visited the slums, then I visited the safari. I feel like I experienced Africa as much as you can experience it. I saw everything.
Q: Fran Fraschilla recruited you to St. John’s.
A: I think he would have been a great NBA coach. I thought Fran would have been really good at like breaking down teams, breaking down plays, getting you ready conditioning-wise. He’d a been a great lead assistant.
Q: Mike Jarvis?
A: I thought Jarvis was more like the head coach — NBA guys get annoyed quick with too much talking. … They’re pros, pros for a reason. … You think you know it all, you don’t know it all but you know a lot. So I thought Jarvis was the type of guy to let you kinda do your thing.
Q: Your best single basketball memory at St. John’s.
A: The whole thing. That was something I’m really, really proud of. I can honestly say that was the right move.
Q: What was it like losing your younger sister Quanisha to SIDS?
A: At that time it was tough. I was looking forward to loving my little sister, then she was gone within 2?¹/? months. So that was tough on the family, it was tough on everybody. … It was devastating.
Q: Your daughter Diamond had kidney cancer six years ago?
A: She got through it though.
Q: How nerve-wracking a time was that?
A: That was tough, ’cause you just never know what’s gonna happen. That was a tough time. But the doctors did a great job, and she was tough. So when you got those combinations, you can only win.
Q: Three dinner guests?
A: Celine Dion, Dennis Rodman, Mike Tyson.
Q: Why Rodman?
A: He’s my idol on the basketball court.
Q: Why Tyson?
A: He’s a family icon, we all look up to him. I love boxing, and I thought he was the greatest boxer that’s ever lived.
Q: What made Rodman such a ferocious rebounder?
A: I think it’s something he wanted to do, something he loved. It’s like when you love like your family, you’ll do anything for it. I think he loves rebounding.
Q: Who was your basketball boyhood idol?
A: My first favorite basketball player was B.J. Armstrong. The first time I seen somebody score was B.J. Armstrong from the corner. That’s before I even watched basketball. I never watched a lot of pro games. I was always outside, never was in my house waiting for a game to come on. When I was 13, I knew nothing about college basketball. I can’t tell you anything interesting. Some of my friends can tell you everything about college basketball.
Q: You were on the court in the Queensbridge projects all the time?
A: All the time.
Q: Your mother had to call you in?
A: I bet you my mother used to let me play because I wasn’t getting in any trouble while I was doing some basketball.
Q: You used to get into fights all the time in Queensbridge, right?
A: Basketball on the court was like a fight. So on the court, we played so hard, it was like fighting. Sometimes you might get in a little scuffle, or you might get in the middle of violence, some of the gangs might try to show their strength, but for the most part, it was always basketball on the court.
Q: Did you see any really bad horrific things?
A: The first time you seen something, it’s horrific, but after a while, you just get used to it.
Q: Favorite Riverside Church memories?
A: Mr. [Ernie] Lorch. He’s my favorite. I love Mr. Lorch. He just gave so many kids opportunity. He’s the best ever. I’m surprised he never applied for an NBA general manager job. Artie Cox — Artie’s probably the best coach I ever played for. Then you got Kevin Jackson — great coach. But Mr. Lorch was a great mind. He let you be responsible on the court, be responsible for your own actions … treated you like a man.
Q: How would someone watching you be able to tell you are a New York City basketball player?
A: (Chuckle). I don’t know. That’s hard to say because I don’t really dribble the ball that well. I mean, I can get up and down the court with the ball, but I don’t have a lot of tricks. I don’t know where this New York city streetball thing came from, I never heard of that before.
Q: Favorite comedian?
Q: Favorite movie?
Q: Favorite actor?
A: Will Smith.
Q: Favorite actress?
A: Demi Moore.
Q: Favorite entertainer?
A: Michael Jackson.
Q: Favorite meal?
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