Is Metta World Peace watching the Lakers playoff series with the Nuggets?
There seemed to be some debate between the TNT broadcast crew in advance of Tuesday night's game. Marv Albert claimed the suspended small forward had admitted he wasn't tuning in. Yet, Mike Brown said World Peace was not only watching, but breaking down the action afterwards like a coach.
I can't speak for the rest of the series, but Metta World Peace was definitely watching Game 5. I know because I was sitting six feet away from him.
The whole evening started with a tweet. Two hours before the game, World Peace wrote to all his 300,000-plus followers, "Ok...hit up @djsyncity to watch game with free pizza and beer.. Of course I am not eatin or drinking that stuff:)) Secret location..."
This isn't the first time he's done something like this. Last month, World Peace took 100 of his Twitter followers to the movies to see "Think Like A Man." It's a type of pop-up, fan interaction that seems to be growing in popularity. In March, Chad Ochocinco treated 200 of his followers to a soul food dinner in Harlem.
Intrigued by the possibility of watching a Lakers game with Metta World Peace as he served his suspension for a brutal elbow to the head of James Harden, I replied to his tweet. A few minutes later I received a direct message with the address of a sports bar. It was two blocks from my apartment. How could I pass this up?
I arrived a few minutes before tip-off and was greeted by a woman named Kristen, who claimed to be one of World Peace's assistants. She matched up my Twitter handle to a list. Apparently I was one of the 80 people to RSVP in time, but as the game started there were only a couple dozen people seated around the six reserved booths. Most had come individually, although a few girlfriends were dragged along. There was an odd sense of anticipation and camaraderie between all these strangers, not just as Lakers fans, but for the odd, impromptu, experience they were about to share.
One fan, Chris, had driven four miles and brought his camera for a photo of World Peace. Two people quickly derided that distance as nothing having battled traffic from Arcadia. "West Covina here!" shouted someone else at our table. I decided not to mention I arrived on foot.
As Marv Albert and Steve Kerr continued to discuss the absence of World Peace, everyone shot knowing glances around. He's coming here. But as Lakers fans, the crowd quickly got into the action, living and dying with every turnover, almost forgetting about the guest of honor. L.A. was down six with a few minutes left in the first. Then it happened.
Metta World Peace walked in. There was almost as much relief that it wasn't a Twitter hoax as there was applause for one of their favorite players. He went to every table shaking hands and fist bumping, not leaving anyone out.
One woman immediately called him on his blue collared shirt. "Why are you wearing Denver colors!?" World Peace looked down, realizing she was right. He looked busted and tried to cover it with his hat, drawing laughter from the growing crowd.
True to his Twitter word, pitchers of light beer soon followed his arrival. Then cheese and pepperoni pizzas hit the tables. World Peace didn't touch any of it, instead sipping on a glass of red wine.
The second quarter started and all eyes went back to the game. No one even noticed when Percy Robert Miller rolled in. You might know him as Master P. He and his son, Lil Romeo, chatted with World Peace briefly and took a few fan photos on their way out.
Photos with the man of the hour would have to wait for everyone else. World Peace was focused on the Lakers' losing effort. He remained stoic, not reacting when Kobe Bryant hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 66-63. Nor batting an eye when Andrew Bynum picked up a technical. His poker face remained even as the Nuggets held on 102-99.
So to answer the question, Metta World Peace is definitely paying attention to this series. And if it goes to Game 7, he will get a chance to show everyone what he's been quietly soaking in alongside a few dozen of his biggest fans.
-- Follow Adam Watson on Twitter @AdamKWatson.
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