Metta World Peace #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers made his first public appearance on April 3, 2013, only six days following knee surgery, and he was walking around freely without crutches or a limp.
No Lakers practice, and it’s humpday on a beautiful sunny day in Los Angeles. I wondered what Metta World Peace was doing on a perfect day like today.
So, I headed down to El Segundo to attend a charity event featuring World Peace at the Lakers practice facility. World Peace at a charity event -- that makes sense, I thought.
Metta had not been seen publicly since undergoing knee surgery on March 28, just six days earlier. The first glimpse I got of the smiling 33-year-old was in the hallway to the press room. He was engaged in conversation with a woman, but he still offered a handshake. I returned a fist bump as I walked by.
Moments later, Metta walked by and slipped on a mat. A couple breaths escaped, but he quickly caught himself. He looked up at me and smiled, "That’s a good sign, right?"
Yes, it was a good sign.
It was good to see Metta comfortably walking around less than a week after surgery.
Then, World Peace worked to help humanity.
Bill Sharman wished to give away his Lakers 2010 championship ring for charity, and World Peace and James Worthy were happy to assist in the cause. It’s cheap, and the prizes are tremendous with no tax burden to worry about.
The grand prize -- fair market value of $18,800 -- includes a 2010 Lakers championship ring and two premium tickets to a game to be determined during the 2013-14 Los Angeles Lakers season. Airfare, hotel, and ground transportation will be provided for the winner and a guest. Finally, the winner will receive a cash amount of $8,146 to mitigate tax liability from winning the raffle.
Honestly, I’m buying tickets: www.billsringofhope.com
The fact that proceeds go to charities like the Toberman Neighborhood Center and the Lakers Youth Foundation only reiterate the value of buying $2 raffle tickets -- minimum 5 tickets. A $10 donation is worth at a chance at a couple Lakers tickets and a championship ring. For me, anyway.
On Wednesday, Sharman presented the gorgeous ring, but the two-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee (as player and coach) allowed James Worthy, World Peace, and others to enthusiastically describe the "worthy" cause -- this is likely the recurring joke with every charitable organization "Big Game" James Worthy is involved with.
After some applause, World Peace met with reporters.
He was clearly enthusiastic about his recovery but refused to say anything with regards to his timetable to return. He made it until the last question repeatedly stating, "I’m very excited; I can’t tell you anymore."
"Last question," Alison Bogli, Lakers spokeswoman, called out.
"After your surgery, how long before you were standing, walking around?" I asked. "I mean, you’re walking right now." I laughed and added, "We know you’re walking."
I jabbed at his veteran-level of evading questions, and Metta responded with laugher. He joked, "Actually, I can't walk right now."
Then, he decided to open up for a brief moment.
"I was on the crutches for a couple days," World Peace answered. "It just gets better. Every half of day, it improves. I’m very encouraged."
Good to hear and best of luck in the recovery, Metta.
You can follow Shahan Ahmed on Twitter: @ShahanLA