LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Even one of basketball’s most hard-nosed defenders apparently has a soft and soulful side.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest — a.k.a. the newly-named “Metta World Peace” — gave a rare peek inside his pregame ritual when he stopped by a Santa Monica radio station on Wednesday.
Artest told KCRW-FM that the music he listens to in the locker room has a direct impact on his on-court performance.
“Basketball is so important to me and the music that I choose, it really has an effect on me on the court, so I gotta choose music that’s gonna keep me centered and that’s me,” said Artest.
Among his preferred tracks: R&B songstress Mary J. Blige’s “My Life”, “Forever Mine” by The O’Jays, and Lenny Williams’ “Cause I Love You”.
So how does music typically associated with a candlelit dinner help Artest excel on the court?
“Sometimes before I get to the end of the song I rewind it, just to get that feeling because I might be thinking about a game or I might be thinking about what album we’re putting out next and I’ll be like, ‘Man, I forgot to get the full effect of the song’, so I gotta rewind [it],” said Artest.
Perhaps the most surprising artist on the play list is “How Long Sweet Daddy, How Long”, a song from 1920 by Alberta Hunter that Artest said keeps him “centered” before tip-off.
Even a song that doesn’t seem so out of place is a source of inspiration for the Lakers’ outspoken big man.
Artest said hip-hop duo Mobb Deep’s “Survival Of The Fittest” — who he said once lived next door to his cousin — evokes the struggles he faced growing up as a youngster in one of New York City’s toughest housing projects.
“I was young and I’m like, ‘Wow, I don’t want to be in the streets, I don’t want to be doing what my cousins are doing, I want to make it in basketball’,” said Artest. “But these guys inspired me to keep pushing, to be positive, to make it in basketball.”
But just as with almost everything else about Artest, this song comes with a warning label.
“I can’t listen to this before a game…because I might get a technical foul or something,” he added.