Meet the Lakers’ new starting small forward: Metta World Peace!  Yep, the erstwhile Ronald William Artest, Junior has decided to take his quest to pass Dennis Rodman as the most…uh…colorful NBA player ever to a new level by changing his name to – you read it right – Metta World Peace.

There’s no word yet on whether we’re expected to stop calling him Ron Ron and start calling him Metta Metta, World World, or whatever whatever.  We are reminded, however, of a few amusing athlete name changes from days past.

First of all, #15 is going to lose a few style points for arguably thieving Lloyd Free’s act.  If you don’t remember him, Mr. Free was a scoring machine who played no defense in the late ’70′s and early ’80′s, peaking at 30.2 ppg for the 1979-80 San Diego Clippers.  Because he said he was All-World, Lloyd changed his name to World B. Free.  Free world?  World peace?

We vote for All-World Head Case(s).

If Zakk Sabbath were here right now, lame Bengals fan that he is, he would remind you that the football putting, bribe faking, soccer playing, bullriding freakshow that is Chad Johnson became Chad Ochocinco a couple years ago.

Surely you remember former Carolina Panthers return specialist Rod Smart.  You think you don’t remember him?  Let’s remind you with three simple, lame letters: X…F…L.  Yep – you got it.  He Hate Me!!! (No, He never changed His name – he shoulda, but he didn’t.)

As long as we’re saying Him instead of him, why not mention Him?  We’re talking, of course, about God.  God Shammgod.  That is not the name change.  That’s His given name, and He played two years in the Big East, one year in the NBA, and overseas using it.  In high school, while playing with Ron Ron Metta World the Lakers’ starting small forward (for reals – they were teammates), He changed His name to Shammgod Wells.  Why?  Only He knows why.

This one isn’t a funny name, but it’s pretty weird to think about: There’s a boxer you may have heard of named Walker Smith, Jr.  No?  Okay, try Sugar Ray Robinson on for size.

J.R. Henderson was a pretty good college basketball player at UCLA.  Won a 1995 National Championship and everything.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t good enough to make it in the NBA, so he’s been balling in Japan, where he’s a superstar.  Strangely, Henderson isn’t the most Japanese-sounding name, and he decided to become a citizen there, so he changed it.  Ladies and gentlemen…meet J.R. Sakuragi!

Then there was the late major league infielder Jose Uribe, uncle of the Dodgers’ Juan Uribe, who came to The Show as Jose Gonzalez.  He decided there were too many Gonzalezes in baseball and changed his name a couple times, going with Uribe Gonzalez before settling on Jose Uribe, making him, according to teammate Will Clark, “literally the player to be named later”.

We have no idea what we’ll be calling the soon-to-be-former Ron Artest in the future, but we can be sure of one thing: in the Weird World Of Sports, Our Hero may have a ways to go to catch Rodman, but he’s working on it.

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June 24, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Basketball, KCAL Crew, KCAL Rocks, Sports | No comment