What to Know
“Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story” Premieres on Showtime at 10 p.m. on May 31, 2019.
Artest was involved in one of the worst brawls in American sports history when he jumped into the stands and fought fans in 2004.
Artest came up big for the Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics in 2010 and thanked his psychologist on the court.
The Ron Artest story is a positive story about mental health, but Artest, who legally changed his name to Metta World Peace in 2011, didn’t want anything to do with the documentary about his life.
“Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story,” which premieres on Showtime Friday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT only got made after his close friends, confidants and the filmmakers all urged him to simply sit down for an interview to share his remarkable life story and leave the rest to the professionals.
World Peace finally, reluctantly relented and gave the filmmakers half the amount of time they requested for an interview.
“I didn’t want to do it,” World Peace says, as he sits in a business building on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. “I didn’t want to do a documentary because I’m like, ‘Why do I want to do a documentary to bring attention to myself, to let somebody know how great my story is?’ You know?”
But now that he’s seen the finished product, he’s proud of the film and his story.
“I cried about three times,” the man who hit the title-clinching shot for the LA Lakers in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals says. “When you see your life in an hour like you’ve never seen it before, it was crazy. And sitting in this position I am today, not as upset as I was when I first came into the league, it was wild.”
He adds, “I felt bad for that young 19-year-old kid. Good lord!”
Perhaps, destiny dictated the timing of the film, premiering on the final night of Mental Health Awareness Month. Artest’s story is about a man evolving from the face of one of the worst sports brawls in the history of American sports into the face of the positive promotion and acceptance of mental health in professional sports.
“You’re either mentally healthy or mentally unhealthy,” World Peace philosophizes after saying “mental health” is an odd term in his eyes. “Maybe we could define it better. Like, ‘I’m going to a mental health facility.’ For a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe you just want to evolve and learn about something else.”
He concludes, “I evolved. I don’t look at it as a bad thing or a sad thing. I look at it as a positive thing. If I’m going to hit a singing bowl with a wand, I’m not sad.” He laughs.
As much as World Peace has grown and moved past the infamous brawl, often referred to as the “malice at the Palace,” that event is an impossibility to ignore in telling his story on film or in person. World Peace says he was on the scorers’ table using calming and breathing techniques he had gained over years in therapy before the brawl.
“At that time, when I got into that confrontation, I was thinking, ‘I’m not doing anything. I’m chilling.’ I thought I was chilling, man,” Artest says almost laughing, because a lone cup tossed at him from the stands melted that chill into flaming hot fists of rage landing on the faces of fans in a Detroit suburb.
“I got hit with a cup, and I just lost it,” World Peace says without the slightest bit of hesitation.
“Around that time, I felt like everybody hated me,” World Peace mentally travels back to 2004, when the NBA suspended him for the remainder of the season.
He lost about $5 million in salary and missed 86 games in all, including the entire postseason.
“I felt like the whole world was against me. I felt like everybody was judging me off this incident. I didn’t feel I was wrong. I lost every single endorsement I had.”
After rattling off several brand deals and planned advertising campaigns that all vanished in the time it takes to throw a punch, World Peace says, “Boom. Next day, everything was gone—everything.”
After getting traded from Indiana to Sacramento and stopping off in Houston, World Peace says he didn’t properly, fully process his role and the effects of the brawl on his life until around the time he joined the Lakers in 2009. Nearly five years had passed since the fight.
It took time and a lot of therapy to fully and properly process the incident that left his career nearly circling the drain, the Queens native says.
“When you’re doing therapy, marriage counseling, which I did, parenting counseling, which I did—I never knew they had parenting therapy, and it was great anger management. When you’re doing all that, they’re giving you different tools man, and you got to be honest because you’re trying to fix a problem. They’re going to ask you questions, you can’t be lying.”
The St. John’s University product adds, “That helps a lot, to just try and be honest with yourself.”
For World Peace, as is the case with many people who seek professional help, getting mentally healthy and keeping his life together was not a simple, straight line.
“Before, the pressure was basketball, and then I would use the stress from home or wherever I was at, I took it out on the basketball court, so I needed to fix that problem,” he says. “Then, it started to become, ‘I’m not focused on the court now. I’m not performing how I should be performing.’ So, now it’s sports psychology. So now, we need to fix that problem, which stems from everything you went through.”
Maybe the reason the title of the film is “The Ron Artest Story” and not the “Metta World Peace Story” is that Artest’s story, which is a mental health story, already has the perfect ending. World Peace’s story, which cannot be told without Artest’s story, still has a long way to go.
“That’s another story, maybe, for another time,” World Peace says when discussing the title not having his current name.
“I’m really proud that I put my story out there,” World Peace says when asked about his final thoughts on the film. “For me to do this again is crazy. I just wanted people to forget about the god damn brawl.”
He quickly corrects himself, “I don’t need people to forget about it, but I don’t see why I’m going to keep talking about it. I don’t have to talk about it. I literally don’t have to. My career now has nothing to do with the brawl or sports, but you know what, I think it’s really important that people see the film.”
He concludes, “It’s going to help people. I’m proud that I did it.”