Submitted by Audley Stephenson for Hoops Talk Nation
During the final regular season match-up between the OKC Thunder and LA Lakers, Metta World Peace AKA Ron Artest stunned the Staples Center crowd when he was ejected midway during the second quarter for throwing a wild elbow to the side of James Harden’s head.
What made the hit even worse was that Harden lay motionless on the court for several moments while a pushing match ensued between the two squads. Harden was eventually able to make it to his feet and head back to the locker room but unfortunately never returned back to the game for precautionary reasons and was later diagnosed with a concussion.
There’s no question that the hit was vicious and clearly meant for its intended target so let’s get that out of the way. The only thing left to discuss is what his suspension will look like in terms of number of games missed. Artest will undoubtedly face some type of fine as well, Lakers fans know that his timing couldn’t be any worse with the playoffs right around the corner.
We saw his teammate Andrew Bynum pick up a five game suspension for his flagrant foul on JJ Barea during game four of the western conference finals last year so we could expect to see the same at a minimum.
Flagrant fouls, ejections, fines and suspensions are nothing new to World Peace who’s entire career is mired with one altercation after another. The general feeling seems to be that the league office will take his soiled history into account when figuring how many games he’ll sit out. In addition to his messy past, there are several other consideration points David Stern will have at his disposal that will work against Artest.
First off, Harden was diagnosed with a concussion which is a sensitive word in the world of sports these days considering all the stuff going on in the NHL playoffs. The NBA rule book has clear language around putting an opponent’s safety and health at risk and Artest clearly took things too far.
The NBA head office has been determined since the 1990′s to crack down on fighting, excessive contact and dirty plays when they introduced the flagrant foul rule. The league wanted to clean up the game and send a message to fans and everyone else watching that the NBA product is clean and free of the rough stuff. So having one of the most vicious altercations take place between two marquee teams during a nationally televised game is the last thing they wanted to see. That by itself will force David Stern’s hand.
Lastly, Artest’s pushing match with OKC’s Serge Ibaka didn’t help the matter any after the incident. To an onlooker, it gave the impression that there was no remorse for what just happened and that will only further stir up the hornet’s nest.
It doesn’t look good for Artest who after the game said, “I hope he’s OK. The Thunder, they’re playing for a championship this year. So I really hope he’s OK, and I apologize … “
While his post game apology does come across as being authentic and his body language does suggest that he’s truly remorseful and regrets what took place, it unfortunately won’t matter.
So how many games do you think he’ll be suspended for?