China Daily reports that Metta World Peace, the basketball player formerly known as Ron Artest, has changed his name again after moving to China to play for the Sichuan Blue Whales—this time, he'll be known as "Panda Friend." World Peace denied the story was accurate:
Guys my chinese name is not "Panda Friend" , its "The Pandas Friend".
— mettaworldpeace.com (@MettaWorldPeace) August 7, 2014
China Daily says The Pandas Friend was formerly known in China as "Ci Shiping," which is just a literal translation of "Metta World Peace."
The Pandas Friend is a viral sensation in his new home, with nearly a million followers on Sina Weibo, China's massively popular answer to Twitter. The Blue Whales, who went 14-20 last year in their first CBA season, are paying him $1.43 million for one year, making him the most expensive foreign player in the league.
Mr. Friend referred to his new moniker as his "Chinese name" on Twitter, but he wasn't clear on whether it would be a legal name change or just a nickname. (With anyone else, you wouldn't have to ask, but the guy did change his name to "Metta World Peace.")
No word yet on the most important part of all of this: how The Pandas Friend's name change could affect Key & Peele's excellent recurring segment, "Metta World News."