A teller of tall tales, Metta World Peace is perhaps one of the most unique individuals in the NBA. So when Peace shouted, "I love basketball" after making a free-throw in a game against the Indiana Pacers, we all laughed and just chalked it up to Metta being Metta.
Metta World Peace hits FT & lets everyone know he loves basketball https://t.co/nU6458ZBV5— The Cauldron (ICYMI) (@CauldronICYMI) November 2, 2016
But for the Lakers, Peace's humorous celebration was not just an amusing moment. It has become an internal slogan on the team as the Lakers have embraced Peace's message and are even ending huddles by shouting "I love basketball!"
From ESPN's Baxter Holmes:
"There were a lot of 'I love basketball' chants," said Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell, who scored 17 points and had four assists.
When the team closes a huddle now, it does so not with a "1-2-3 Team!" but with that phrase, Russell added. Everyone around the team is using it -- the coaching staff, players, everyone.
"It's been great for us," he said.
Look, this may sound silly, but if a team is having fun while playing together, they are probably going to be more successful. Also, loving basketball is exactly the type of culture Lakers coach Luke Walton is trying to foster in Los Angeles.
Walton is trying to duplicate the team environment that exists in Golden State and embracing something as ridiculous as Peace's mantra is clearly helping to do that. The Lakers have played well so far this season and have beaten two stellar teams in the Rockets and Warriors.
This is a dramatic change from the Byron Scott regime that existed in Los Angeles over the last couple of seasons. Instead of a cloud of doom and gloom hovering around the Lakers, under Walton they play more loose and free, which has allowed D'Angelo Russell, who struggled under Scott, to blossom.
The Lakers look like a team that can actually reach their potential and are heading toward a bright future. So perhaps Todd Rundgren was right, love is the answer.