What, you expected Metta World Peace to drive to Madison Square Garden? Clearly, you've never tried taking the L.I.E. inbound in the late afternoon or fighting Fifth Avenue at rush hour. No, as any New York transit veteran knows, the smart move is to hop on the F and take it to 34th Street-Herald Square ... which is precisely what the Queensbridge native, former St. John's University standout and newly minted New York Knicks forward did before his team's season-opening matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday, as reported by fellow commuter Jim Baumbach of Newsday:
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The vibrations of the arriving F train getting louder by the second, the man formerly known as Ron Artest stood up from the bench where he had been sitting (next to a surprised fan, of course) and laughed as he watched the train come to stop.
"This," he said, "is something I've always wanted to do."
Then he boarded the subway car, bound for the Garden. [...]
As he took the F into the city, World Peace spoke with Baumbach about how the actual separation between Queensbridge and MSG — about four miles and 20 or so minutes on the train — differed from how long it took him, and how far he had to go, to make the trip himself:
Of course he was disappointed that the Knicks passed on him in 1999 to take Frederic Weis, who never played a game for them. But the St. John's product has come to believe that he was too immature then to handle what comes with playing at home.
"I was 19 years old, making a ton of money and I didn't know what to do with it," he said while riding the train, occasionally glancing out the window behind him for signs of where he was.
Throughout his career, he said he entertained thoughts of joining the Knicks, but said he didn't think the interest ever was reciprocated. Eventually, he said he figured it wasn't meant to be for him.
"I never thought this day would come," he said.
Nor did a lot of us.
After all, the former Ron Artest's NBA career had spanned 14 seasons and five franchises before this summer, and while New York fans who love World Peace's hard-nosed defense and, shall we say, colorful demeanor had always wished for a '99 draft do-over, it never seemed like a realistic possibility that he'd get back to the Big Apple, whether in trade (there was some smoke back in 2007, but evidently no fire) or his lone entry into free agency (the Cleveland Cavaliers were allegedly interested in him during the summer of '09, but he wound up signing with the Los Angeles Lakers). But then this offseason rolled around, and the Lakers needed to pare down their luxury tax bill, and the Knicks needed a cheap frontcourt defender. Peas, meet carrots.
World Peace's first game as a Knick went about as expected — a few nice defensive plays, a few somewhat scary offensive possessions, a bit less mobility and deterrence at age 33 than in his bruising prime, and a warm welcome from the fans at the World's Most Famous Arena. Metta finished with four points, four rebounds, a steal and a turnover in 18 minutes of run in the Knicks' 90-83 home-opening win over the Milwaukee Bucks. I'm not sure if he took the train home afterward, but if he did, at least we know he went home having successfully experienced the satisfying conclusion of a journey some 15 years in the making.
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