Monday , Apr , 23 , 2012 Matt Formica

World Peace Elbow Leads to Harden Concussion: Suspension Looming at Inopportune Time

Metta World Peace didn’t look so peaceful Sunday night, when he elbowed James Harden in the back of the head in the first half of the Lakers victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The blow to Harden came with 1:37 left in the first half, after World Peace threw down a slam dunk between Ibaka and Durant in transition.  After the dunk, MWP was doing the usual chest pounding, fist pumping celebration, when he unleashed a big elbow on an unsuspecting Harden, who looked like he was just walking to inbound the ball.

World Peace was subsequently issued a flagrant two and ejected from the game after the officials reviewed the play. 

In the post-game press conference, MWP said he got "real emotional and real excited and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow." 

Now I love Ron Artest as a player.  He’s been one of my favorite in the league for a long time.  I like how hard he plays.  I love his passion.  I love that he makes the game entertaining, by celebrating when he makes a layup, for example.  My friend and I even met him while standing in line at a Whole Foods in Los Angeles a few years ago and not only were we taken aback by how big the dude is (he’s not just 6’7" – he’s also jacked and shredded on top of it) but we were both impressed by how kind and respectful he was.  From that point on, I went from liking Ron Artest the player (he was still officially Ron Artest then) to also liking Ron Artest the person.

But having said all that, the elbow he hit Harden with on Sunday made it difficult for anyone to like Artest/World Peace as a player or a person.  And it’s unfortunate to have that perception of someone.   Especially when World Peace is a guy who won the NBA’s citizenship award last year.  He’s a guy who, after the Lakers won it all in 2010, auctioned off his championship ring and raised over $650,000 for mental health charities.  There is a good heart and soul inside this man. 

But the reality is, it’s hard for anyone who saw that elbow live or on the highlight reel to believe that it was just unintentional.  It was just too blatant looking to think that.  Not to mention, Harden, who was unable to return to the game after the elbow, was diagnosed with a concussion and will undergo further treatment per the league’s new, stringent concussion recovery policy.

Furthermore, the "unintentional" decision he made to elbow Harden couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Like him or not, MWP has been playing great basketball as of late.  He’s averaging over 13 points a game in his last three games and he’s been a beast on defense, per usual.  When he was ejected last night, he already had 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.  Remember it wasn’t even the second half yet.  He was on pace for one of his best performances all season.

And now he’s going to be suspended, and who knows for how many games.  It’s just unfortunate that the suspension will come heading into the playoffs, when he’s been making such positive contributions on the court every night and the Lakers need him now more than ever. 

It will be very interesting to see how long Commissioner Stern decides to suspend him for.  MWP has already been suspended for a total of 111 games throughout the course of his career.

Should another name change be in order?

Questions or comments???  Get at me Hoopsvibers!

 
Image Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/keithallison/6963486589/sizes/m/in/photostream/