In the second quarter of today’s Thunder-Lakers game, the moment I’d been waiting all season for arrived. Metta World Peace, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, gave OKC’s James Harden an elbow to the head that will surely rank among his greatest hits once his bizarre career ends.
This is pure, vintage Ron Artest material. The has a nice drive to the basket in transition to ignite the crowd and bring the Lakers within one, and then, straight out of WWE, the mid-celebration People’s Elbow to Harden’s dome. No amount of Rick Ross-esque beard was going to soften that blow. he ‘bow earned Metta a Flagrant two, meaning an automatic ejection from the game. Magic Johnson suggested during halftime that a two game suspension would be fair, but I’m advocating a crackdown on World Peace by David Stern. (Crackdown on World Peace–this is precisely why I’ve been waiting for this to happen.)
For starters, he’s a repeat offender. A name change and a recent run of relatively good behavior doesn’t erase the fact that World Peace has a history of bad behavior. He has six technical fouls this season, and he always seems to be in the middle of things when games become chippy.
There was also that one time in Detroit, when he took to the stands and flagrant 2’d a few fans.
My guess? Stern suspends Metta for five games, and in doing so makes an example out of him on the eve of the postseason. Stern’s paid attention to the rampant goonery in the first round of the NHL Playoffs, and doesn’t want the NBA to also gain the notoriety of being a “thug league.”
The degree to which this effects the Lakers’ playoff run remains to be seen. It’s all but certain World Peace will be out of action for the Lakers’ final regular season game–at Sacramento on Thursday. Any suspension will likely exclude him for most, if not all, of the Lakers’ first round series. He’s averaging a career-low 7.6 points per game, and his .301 on three-point attempts is his lowest since ’01-’02. Still, he’s a solid defender who would be penciled in for around 30 minutes a game in the postseason had he not delivered the chin music to Harden. Whether he gets two games or twenty, count on a smaller dosage of World Peace in the NBA Playoffs.