Metta World Peace elbowed James Harden out of the game between the Oklahoma City and Los Angeles Lakers, taking himself out the game as well. Once the initial jokes abounded about World Peace provoking violence (and the excitement died down about a potential Serge Ibaka vs World Peace throw down), the talk ultimately focused on the potential punishment.
World Peace was immediately ejected from the game for a technical two after officials looked over the replay. The elbow seemed intentional by all accounts; Harden had to leave the game with a discussion. World Peace would later apologize, though he stuck with his claim that it was a celebration and not an intentional elbow.
He’s unlikely to get the benefit of the doubt from the NBA and he shouldn’t: The punishment needs to fit the crime. Unfortunately, like many public crimes later hounded by media coverage, World Peace can’t get a fair trial because of his past as Ron Artest.
Kevin Love got a two game suspension for stepping on an opponent’s head. Kevin Garnett (another player not given the benefit of the doubt)for throwing an elbow in a game received a one game suspension. Garnett’s elbow was much softer than World Peace’s, but the punishment will be much heavier.
Despite it being eight years past, Ron Artest is still to blame (fairly or nto) for the biggest embarrassment in NBA history. He paid the time, and he’s paid the time since for other suspensions, but the Laker won’t get any help here. The suspension will be as harsh as the league can possibly justify, and it will include various playoff games.
Aside from being Ron Artest, he also may be judged for the team he plays on. Artest and his teammate Andrew Bynum ended Phil Jackson’s historic career with a series of cheap shots that turned everyone against the team. This team has shown these kinds of shots aren’t isolated events and as the playoffs loom closer (where encounters get more heated and violent) the league may have found the perfect poster child to set an example as the regular season ends.
The post season is going to be scandalous enough a–an unnecessary scapegoating of World Peace won’t help the NBA and its looming image problem.