NBA player Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, is reportedly changing his name to “Panda Friend” to prepare for his move to China to play for the Chinese Basketball Association. Here’s what you need to know.
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1. A Chinese Newspaper Revealed the Name Change
Peace tweeted about a name change to prepare for his move to China.
New Chinese name coming soon. You guys are going to love it!!!!
— mettaworldpeace.com (@MettaWorldPeace) August 5, 2014
New high-profile import playing for Chinese basketball Association (CBA) club Sichuan Blue Whales is known as Ron Artest but intends to change his name to “Panda Friend” in honor of his move to China.
This has not been confirmed by Peace.
2. He is Currently Known in China as ‘Ci Shiping’
Peace is already known as a translation of “Metta World Peace” in Chinese.
China Daily further reports:
World Peace, who is known in China as “Ci Shiping”, a literal translation of “Metta World Peace.”
The alleged name “Panda Friend” is an homage to his new team, the Sichuan Blue Whales
Sichuan is known for its panda population.
3. The Sichuan Blue Whales are Up-and-Comers
The Sichuan Blue Whales were recently promoted to the CBA as a national league. Originally they were part of the Chinese National Basketball League (NBL), a second-tier league. They were promoted to the CBA after winning the 2013 NBL championship.
Metta World Peace is one of two Americans who play for the Blue Whales.
The other is Michael Efevberha of Pomona, California.
4. Other Big NBA Names Have Moved to the CBA
Peace’s move to the Sichuan Blue Whales follows in the footsteps of other big NBA names.
Tracy McGrady (above) retired from the NBA in 2013. Before that, he spent a season with the Qingdao DoubleStar Eagles in the 2012-2013 season.
Stephon Marbury currently plays for the Beijing Ducks.
5. ‘Panda Friend’ Signed a $1.43 Million Deal
Ron Artest, Metta World Peace, Ci Shipling, or Panda Friend signed a nearly $1.5 million dollar deal with the Blue Whales. That’s a lot of yuan.