After attempting to turn around his reputation and trying to prove he had truly matured over the last few seasons; “The Player Formerly Known As Ron Artest” re-emerged Sunday late in the first half of the contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Lakers veteran forward who legally changed his name to Metta World Peace last year; committed what I can only describe as a despicable and inexcusable act, as he viciously knocked Thunder guard James Harden to the ground with an elbow to the head. The Los Angeles veteran did not strike Harden during contact on a drive, rather it was after the forward was celebrating his success on his scoring attempt, beating his chest to emphasize his prowess on the court.
Apparently Harden said something that ticked off the much-traveled forward, who showed his displeasure with an elbow just behind Harden’s left ear. World Peace was immediately ejected from the eventual 114-106 Lakers victory and according to a report from “The Oklahoman” suffered a concussion due to the blow. He is unlikely to play in the final two games of the regular season for the Thunder and the club is hoping he will be able to be back on the court as the NBA Playoffs begin this coming weekend.
The Lakers veteran told members of the media that his days of controversy were over when he signed as a Free Agent with Los Angeles in the Summer of 2009 and he kept his word that entire campaign as he helped his new club win their second consecutive NBA Title. Although he had a well publicized argument with former Lakers bench boss Phil Jackson last season, the forward would pretty much stick to his pledge last year as well.
Earlier in this campaign, there was tension between new Los Angeles head coach Mike Brown and World Peace and both expressed their frustrations about each other to reporters. The situation had seemed to be resolved the veteran was back in the starting lineup for the squad and had played well over the last couple of months. Then the incident on Sunday took place once again putting “The Player Formerly Known As Ron Artest” back in the negative spotlight.
There is no question that Commissioner David Stern will suspend the Lakers veteran for the uncalled for attack on Harden; the only answer we are waiting for is how severe the punishment for World Peace will be. Stern suspended him for 86 games after charging into the stands during the infamous “Malice At The Palace” incident while he was playing for the Indiana Pacers in a game against the Detroit Pistons; in my opinion this heinous act deserves at least the same punishment.
Commissioner Stern should suspend the Lakers forward for the rest of the regular season, the Playoffs and next season and he should make “The Player Formerly Known As Ron Artest” apply for reinstatement after the conclusion of the 2013 Playoffs. Stern has to send a message to the player; as well as the rest of the Association that those kinds of actions will never be tolerated by any player and especially by a repeat offender.
World Peace praised his therapist after winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy with the Lakers, saying that his life had turned around. What “The Player Formerly Known As Ron Artest” proved on Sunday, is although he may have a new name; he is still the same guy who is capable of pulling the punk move he did on James Harden.