Metta World Peace, formally known as Ron Artest, is now facing a seven game suspension without pay after his dunk celebration against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He proceeded to dunk the ball with authority and ran back on defense. However, he didn’t go back without taunting his opponent first. His taunt ended with a vicious elbow to the back of the head of Thunder guard, James Harden, knocking Harden to the floor.
Ironically, World Peace is notorious for being a violent and dirty player. He is most commonly known for the Pacer Pistons-Brawl, where he actually left the court and went into the stands to fight fans. For his actions, World Peace was suspended 86 games in addition to being fined.
This brawl happened when World Peace still went by the name Ron Artest. Many fans thought that his flamboyant name change to Metta World Peace, signaled a desire to change his image and behavior. This was his first violent incident since the name change. Maybe it’s just a bump in the road to a peaceful World Peace.
However, this time the play was a slightly controversial one. Did he intentionally elbow Harden in the head, or was it really in the moment and part of his celebration? Either way you see it, James Harden went down with a concussion. After being treated by doctors on the court for quite some time, Harden was able to leave the court. He even attempted to return to the game, but his symptoms worsened and he sat out the remainder of the game. Harden continued to sit out and missed the final regular season game.
After the game, via Twitter, World Peace realized his actions. “I just watched the replay again..... Oooo .. My celebration of the dunk really was too much... Didn’t even see James ..... Omg... Looks bad.”
Now, with the playoffs underway every action and injury becomes even more crucial. This suspension will most likely hold World Peace out of the first series of the playoffs against the Denver Nuggets. If the Lakers are able to advance, there is a very good chance that they will meet the Thunder in the next round. Revenge will have never looked so sweet for the Thunder and James Harden.
The Thunder have locked up second place in the West, with the Lakers right behind them in third place. Both Harden and World Peace are vital to their teams. Harden, arguably the six man of the year (award given to most outstanding bench player) has recently recovered from his concussion. While World Peace, the Lakers starting forward and defensive threat, will obviously have to serve his suspension.
This foolish play hurt the Thunder, but was much more damaging to the Lakers. As the playoffs are underway, the Lakers will have to be that much better to make up for the incident. Although World Peace isn’t the star of the team, it very well may affect the possibility of a championship for them. All in all, it was a stupid play, especially for a veteran like World Peace. However, it’s very likely that this issue will be resolved in a second round matchup between the Thunder and the Lakers.