World Peace on Kawhi: “I wanted to be like him.”

Metta World Peace says, "I’m able to live through Kawhi when I watch him play. I’m able to just put a smile on my face."

Kawhi Leonard is currently sidelined indefinitely as he recovers from tearing his right ACL nearly a year and half ago and sitting out all of last season. He has played in just two games this season, both for about 20 minutes off the bench, but one former Lakers player is anxiously awaiting his return.

“He’s somebody that I respectfully envy because I wanted to be like him,” Metta World Peace told The Sporting Tribune. “I won’t ever tell him that to his face because I’m super competitive but he is the type of player that if my career went right, that’s who you see. You see Kawhi. If I don’t get suspended and things go right, that’s who you see. I’m able to live through Kawhi when I watch him play. I’m able to just put a smile on my face because I’m like, ‘OK, even though my career was cut short in terms of production and performance, Kawhi took it to the next level and won championships and won Finals MVPs.’ He plays defense and offense, he’s a big strong guy. I like it. That’s what I wanted to be.”

World Peace, who is the founder of the Artest Management Group, spoke to The Sporting Tribune before speaking at the LA Sports Innovation Conference at the YouTube Theater at SoFi Stadium on Wednesday. He also told The Sporting Tribune he is interested in helping bring an NBA expansion franchise to Las Vegas.

“Kawhi had a great career,” World Peace said. “I’m assuming he’s going to come back one of these days. He’s trying to protect himself. It was an ugly injury he suffered. Maybe he got a little bit sore and we know how hard Kawhi plays. It was so unfortunate for him to get hurt. Hopefully he’ll be back soon. He’s a role model but obviously he’s a quiet guy so we’ll see.”

World Peace believes the Clippers (6-5) will be championship contenders when Leonard returns and even believes the Lakers (2-8) can still turn their season around despite their early struggles.  

“I feel like Russell (Westbrook) is coming to the end of his career,” World Peace said. “He’s still very, very good. He’s not a bad player but I think he was in a bad space because his role was changing. But I think his role can lead him to a title. The reason I say that is because you got a guy like Westbrook coming off the bench, you got Anthony Davis and LeBron James, you put yourself in position to win a title. It takes two years for a team to learn how to play together. LeBron understands that. I think they’ll figure it out.”

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