Metta World Peace believes Kobe Bryant wanted another championship 'too much'

Former Los Angeles Laker Metta World Peace reveals why Kobe Bryant fell short of winning his sixth NBA championship, and what he admired about him the most.

New Jersey Nets v Los Angeles Lakers
New Jersey Nets v Los Angeles Lakers / Lisa Blumenfeld/GettyImages

Former Laker Metta World Peace describes what it was like playing alongside the late Kobe Bryant. On a recent episode of “The OGs Show" podcast, former Los Angeles Lakers legend Metta World Peace, aka, Metta Sandiford-Artest described to hosts Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller what it was like playing alongside the late Kobe Bryant.

During a conversation with Haslem and Miller, the OGs welcomed NBA veteran Metta World Peace (previously known as Ron Artest) where he was unfiltered, revealed some untold Kobe Bryant stories, opened up about Malice at the Palace, and explained his reasoning for calling Micheal Jordan the GOAT. 

World Peace said that Bryant had fire and desire to win another championship, but instead of letting it happen naturally to get to the finals, he thinks Kobe wanted it too much, and it got in the way.

World Peace was instrumental in helping the Lakers secure their championship before 2020. The chance to share the court with his former teammate and superstar Kobe Bryant was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. Yet, it wasn't just playing alongside Kobe that was memorable. It was the competition between them that truly strengthened their bond.

Following his fifth championship victory, the ultimate objective for Bryant was undoubtedly to secure a sixth title, thereby equalling his idol Michael Jordan's total. But the Lakers never truly approached championship glory again during Bryant's tenure, and his former teammate believes he understands the underlying cause for this.

"After Kobe got five, he wanted number six. You saw it in his eyes; he wanted number six. So there were games when we were up, after that finals, in the playoffs up, you know by seven points or 10 points with a minute left. Instead of letting it happen naturally to get to the finals, I think Kobe wanted it too much."

Metta World Peace

History between Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace

Kobe Bryant emerged as the lead figure for the Lakers in 2004 after Shaquille O'Neal was traded from Los Angeles to the Miami Heat. During his tenure, Bryant led the team to back-to-back NBA championships and won five total. World Peace joined the team after the Lakers emerged victorious against the Orlando Magic in the 2009 Finals.

World Peace brought a level of intensity and toughness. In his unique way, World Peace exemplified the ‘Mamba Mentality', contributing significantly to the Lakers' success in 2010. 

That same year, Bryant and World Peace shared the court as teammates and won an NBA championship for the Lakers. The two swiftly garnered a strong following and formed a closer bond, but it took some time before they developed this deeper connection beyond their basketball careers. 

Metta was renowned for his physicality but, after his involvement in the "Malice at the Palace," he aimed to tone down his aggression. However, Bryant required him to be assertive to secure victories, and consequently, he discovered a way to unlock Metta's aggression and obtain what he needed.

Kobe wasn't going to respect individuals solely based on their reputation. Respect had to be earned. Dwight Howard serves as a prime example of this. Throughout the 2009-10 NBA playoffs, World Peace showcased his skills by averaging 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game, all while playing exceptional defense. He played a significant role for the Lakers that season, and it is evident that Kobe held him in high regard. Nevertheless, Metta earned Bryant's trust by competing fiercely against him during their championship journey.

In the video clip below, Bryant shares the remarkable and unconventional way he used to motivate Metta to be the player he knew he could be.

In a video clip from the "OGs Show" podcast, World Peace recounted that, before joining the Lakers, he and Kobe had been rivals, which led to speculation about their compatibility as teammates. They had encountered confrontations on the basketball court, occasionally pushing the boundaries of physicality due to their intense competitiveness. Despite these concerns, his partnership with Bryant was instrumental in the team's achievements.

There was nothing Kobe wanted more than a sixth championship

Perhaps the sole aspiration that the Black Mamba failed to accomplish was matching his idol MJ in the championship rings category. Additionally, he did not conclude his career with a title victory. Regrettably for Bryant, MWP, and the Los Angeles Lakers, their hopes for a three-peat were shattered by Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks, who swept them in a 2011 playoff series. Of course, the Mavericks went on to defeat LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh's Miami Heat in the Finals.

This also marked the end of Phil Jackson's coaching era. Following the 2011 season, Bryant had one final opportunity, notably when the Lakers assembled a superteam by adding Howard and Steve Nash, which ultimately did not succeed due to various factors. 

This was meant to be Kobe's last shot at securing a championship while still in his prime, but it turned out to be the same year he suffered an Achilles injury. World Peace thinks his former colleague fell short of winning his sixth ring because he was overly fixated on achieving it. MWP believes that Bryant's intense desire to equal Jordan's ring count consumed him to the extent that it impacted his performance. 

Practice Makes Perfect

The retired forward revealed how Bryant’s work ethic inspired him to put in the work to perfect his game on the basketball court early on in his career. MWP stated that his favorite thing about playing with Kobe was watching him prepare, recalling that he was always in the gym first and super early in the morning. He recalled what Bryant was like as a teammate.

"One day, I went at 8, and he was getting in the car like, ‘Yo Metta, what's up?’ He was in his Range Rover, and I was like where you going, and he said he was done. So the next day, I came there at 5 am, and he was working. Then, to see him in Boston, Game 5 get 25 straight points. At one point, I was just watching him, and I said this is just incredible. I started my routine because of Reggie Miller my first year in the league, but Kobe was a workhorse to me, man."

The on-court bond that will last a lifetime

The meaning behind World Peace's reference remains somewhat ambiguous, especially regarding the connection between desiring a championship excessively and the lack of success in achieving one, as he seems to suggest. Despite winning a championship against the Boston Celtics in 2010, the Lakers only made limited progress in the postseason before Bryant concluded his NBA career with a struggling Los Angeles team.

Reflecting on his bond with Bryant, Peace acknowledged that while they may not have been close friends in the end, he's proud that they were able to establish a harmonious relationship as teammates and foster a mutual respect that grew between them and their ability to work harder than anyone in the room.