A lot of turbulent water has gone under the bridge since the ugly brawl between the Pistons and Pacers that eventually spilled into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Nearly a dozen years later, the central figure Metta World Peace tells Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com that he still cannot forgive himself for the trouble and grief he inflicted upon the Pacers’ organization.
“That’s what I feel most bad about to this day,” World Peace told ESPN. “That’s something that I can never, ever forgive myself for. I don’t regret it, but I definitely can’t forgive myself for that.”
When World Peace won an NBA championship with Lakers in 2010, he thanked the Pacers.
“It’s the first thing I did when I got on that podium, because for me, we wanted to win a ring,” he said. “And when I set my mind to something, that’s what I want to do. And we didn’t do it and I had an attachment to that team. We were supposed to win a ring together, and I really wanted that, but at that time, I wasn’t able to follow through, because every little thing bothered me. I was unstable. I didn’t know how to get along with others. I didn’t even know how to be in the same room with other people.
“Then after a while, you learn. Like [then-Pacers CEO and president] Donnie Walsh helped me. He supported me when I was seeing a psychologist. We didn’t talk about it back then because I was afraid to let people I know that I was seeing a psychologist, but they would take me after every practice. The team would go to the locker room and I was doing my sessions right here, right back here. Donnie Walsh, man. He started me down that path and that’s why I respect him. I just feel so much for that man. He was taking care of me when I wasn’t stable.”
After a 115-108 Lakers loss Tuesday night in what will likely be his final NBA game in Indianapolis, World Peace said there is one more wish he has for the Pacers franchise.
“Honestly, for me, when the Pacers win a championship, I’ll feel a little bit better,” he said. “That will make me feel a little bit better.”