Despite the fact that the National Basketball Association pushed back opening day of the 2011-2012 campaign to Christmas Day; after ending a Lockout that nearly cost the game the entire season; it has been a very successful season for the Association. With attendance and television ratings as strong as they have been, reporters queried Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver on whether the NBA would consider condensing the regular season to a 66-game schedule. Silver replied that the Association would return to the 82-game format next season.
The support of the fans is proof of the excitement and entertainment value of the game itself, as well as the players who excel at the professional level. The Association has prospered even in a year when it seemingly has done just about everything to alienate their fan base; including the latest episode as “The Great And Powerful” NBA Commissioner David Stern has upset many fans and observers alike; with his handling of the Metta World Peace suspension.
The callous behavior displayed by the Los Angeles Lakers veteran forward on Sunday outraged the public, when he viciously slammed his elbow into the left side of the head of Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden while celebrating a basket he made late in the first half of the Lakers victory over the Thunder. The blow knocked the Oklahoma City guard to the hardwood and he was diagnosed with a concussion after the game. Thankfully, Harden will be fine and has received clearance from the Association’s doctors to resume playing.
With expectations that Stern would send a message of intolerance of the behavior of the repeat offender and punish the Los Angeles forward with a lengthy suspension; the Commissioner decided on Tuesday that World Peace would miss seven games for the incident. He will be out for the final game of the regular season and would miss the first six Post Season games for the Lakers if they advance that far in the Playoffs; which they should do. World Peace would come back during the second round of the Playoffs; most likely with Los Angeles playing the Thunder.
Although many believe that the seven game suspension was just a veritable slap on the wrist for the Lakers veteran; especially with the history he had before Sunday; the “Los Angeles Times” reports that Stern believes the punishment was extremely severe. In a conference-call with reporters on Wednesday the Commissioner said “It’s really very serious stuff and it does take into account the fact that the perpetrator is who he is and has the record that he has and this called for, in our view, a very stiff penalty. And we think that seven games, which only includes one regular-season game, is such a stiff penalty.”
Stern also told reporters that he could not really determine the Lakers forward’s intent when he whacked Harden during his celebration. He said “I believe that it was recklessly thrown and I believe that in looking at the replays again and again, he should have known that James was up against him. And some would argue that he had to have known, but I can’t be in his mind in that moment.”
If the Commissioner is being forthright and truthfully can not determine the veteran’s intent when he slammed Harden in the dome; then he should resign immediately as he is no longer capable of performing his duties. The expression on the face of the veteran when he threw the elbow was one of pure annoyance; as if he was swatting a mosquito. It was not “recklessly thrown” as the Commissioner said he believes, it was a direct hit on target; although possibly harder than World Peace may have intended it to be.
Stern told the media on Wednesday that the Association uses a “combination of art and science” to determine the length of suspensions. He sounded somewhat like the politician that says well if the left and the right both are angry with me, then I must be doing something right; rather than realizing that the politician’s actions are so misguided that they have everyone up in arms. Stern messed up once again and is now engaging in damage control.
The campaign started on a sour note and unfortunately we enter the Post Season with that same bad taste in our mouths. Thankfully, the game itself is good enough that we shall soon be able to forget this latest mishap in the Association.