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June 18, 2019

Metta World Peace says night of drinking killed shot at being drafted by Knicks

June 13, 2019

Fairly high on the list of Knicks draft mistakes was picking Frederic Weis 15th overall in 1999. It’s not just that Weis never played a minute in the NBA or was posterized by Vince Carter so ferociously at the Olympics that the French media labeled it, “The Dunk of Death.”

Much of the exasperation over Weis was that Ron Artest – the New York-bred forward from St. John’s – was still on the board and picked 16th by the Bulls.

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But as it turns out, the Knicks might’ve had reasons beyond incompetence to bypass Artest, who now goes by Metta World Peace. Now 39 years old with an NBA title and a Defensive Player of the Year on his retired NBA resume, World Peace told the Daily News that he skipped his pre-draft workout with New York because he got too drunk the night prior.

“Honestly, I caused that,” World Peace said. “Because I was getting in trouble. I didn’t show up to my first Knick tryout. I was partying the night before in New York. I was f–ked up. I had my Knicks tryout the next day. I got drunk in Westchester, in the hotel, like, ‘Yo I can’t make it out the bed.’”

“And I’m like, ‘I’m coming to New York anyway, I’m not tripping.’ I said, ‘I’ll just come back another time and work out.’ That’s what I said. And they was like, ‘F–k out of here.’”

St. John’s head coach Mike Jarvis talks with Ron Artest during a second half timeout in their Big East matchup with Rutgers Saturday, Jan. 16, 1999 in New York. Artest had 12 points and 6 assists in St. John’s 88-78 victory. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan) (MARK LENNIHAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

World Peace told reporters in 2003 that he missed the initial work out because of an upset stomach, and then returned for a group session that included prospect Shawn Marion. Asked Thursday if the Knicks knew that drinking was at the root of his absence, World Peace said, “I didn’t show up. Either way, I didn’t show up.”

World Peace entered the draft with many concerns about his erratic behavior at St. John’s, which were detailed in a documentary, “Quiet Storm,” produced by Bleacher Report and airing on Showtime. As the film explains, World Peace was dealing with a mental disorder that left him prone to fits of rage and mood swings.

He was traded by the Bulls to the Pacers in his third season, and then developed into an All-Star but didn’t find balance until later in his career. He once admitted to drinking Hennessey at halftime of games.

“I wish I could’ve went to the Knicks,” World Peace said. “That’s where I wanted to go.”

Would it have worked out to be so close to home?

“They would’ve traded me in two years,” World Peace said before reconsidering that stance. “But maybe I would’ve had more support. I mean, I’m from New York. Who knows? I was hoping I was going to New York. That would’ve been huge, man. It would’ve worked out good.”

World Peace was validated with a championship in 2010 with the Lakers, which he sealed in Game 7 with a late 3-pointer. He played one season with the Knicks in 2013-14, but it devolved into a disaster and he was waived after the All-Star break.

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“It was a different time. But people that know Metta, Ron Artest, me from St. John’s – they were happy,” World Peace said. “I had a chance to put on the jersey. I was happy with that. I’m cool with that.”

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