While this weekend was an exciting one for fans of high school proms, Keeneland, and Nerlens Noel (I like two of those things), it was a dangerous one for Oklahoma City’s James Harden. Harden, who made the mistake of bumping into the player formerly known as Ron Artest while setting up for an inbounds play, got knocked the heck out by a celebrating elbow. Artest, now hilariously and ironically known as Metta World Peace (and you thought Ochocinco was bad), seemed to deliberately strike the soft part of Harden’s neck/head with the least peaceful part of his arm. Take a look:
That looks pretty intentional to me; the only question now is how long will he be suspended? The consensus seems to be around 5 games, but some think it should be harsher. Take Dick Vitale’s opinion, for example:
– Dick Vitale (@DickieV) April 23, 2012
What makes that tweet great is that he directed it right at Magic Johnson AND MWP, making sure they’d each see it. Why? Because Dick Vitale is a man, that’s why. Why the outcry from Vitale? Maybe the harsher penalty he suggests is based on past performance from Peace.
Those of you who have watched the NBA, or at least followed NBA headlines, for a few years will remember that Peace is the same crucial actor who was involved in the Malice at the Palace almost eight years ago. Peace, then Ron Artest, ran into the stands and physically assaulted multiple fans with fisticuffs, leading to the longest NBA suspension in league history at 86 games. They let him back into the league, of course, because talented athletes shouldn’t have to face legitimate legal consequences for their actions unless they’re caught dogfighting.
And now people are acting shocked when he assaults a player? Poppycock. I say get him out of the league for good. Not just for this elbow, which in a vacuum merits about the five-game suspension that everyone is suggesting. If it was a clean record-holder that threw it, like if the roles were reversed and Harden was the perpetrator, then that punishment seems fair. For MWP, though? This was just the most recent of a chain of visibly violent behavior, and further evidence that the man cannot be trusted to act in a safe manner on the court.
ESPN.com’s Kevin Arnovitz says that Metta’s history “is inadmissible evidence.” I think that’s garbage. How can the league not take repeat offenses into consideration when formulating a punishment for one of its most visible players? Even Kentucky law recognizes that the penalty for perennial offenders in some criminal activity (like a DUI) should be stricter than the punishment for a first-time offender. Why should the NBA be any different? And if the suspension isn’t any more than five games, and Harden sits out for more than that with “concussion-like symptoms,” Peace’s elbow could almost be seen as a strategic device employed to help the Lakers’ chances in the playoffs–trade one of your less important players for one of their most crucial.
MWP tried to play it off in a post-game locker room conference, claiming the elbow was “unintentional,” and that he hopes Harden “is okay.” Anybody who watched the video will disagree with his definition of “intentional.” The man threw a shiv elbow at another player, showed no remorse after certainly feeling the strike, and almost got into a fight with the injured player’s teammate. I’m a fan of “tough” players, and always enjoyed watching Dennis Rodman, but this goes beyond tough. This is low down. This is dirty. This is not basketball. Metta World Peace has had his second- and third-chances, and this is the result. Can we hope that he’ll be any different after a five game suspension? If insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result, then to expect Peace to change his behavior after a suspension and a name-change is nut-house crazy. To me, there’s only one solution:
Get this guy out of there. And don’t let him back in.