A day later, we still don’t know what to make of Metta World Peace’s elbow and ejection from Sunday’s Laker win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Whether MWP purposely intended to fling a violent elbow at OKC’s James Harden or not, we can all agree that World Peace put himself in a terrible situation by flinging his arms as he did, that a suspension should result, even as I concur with Eric Freeman that “the exact intent of the action might be impossible to determine.”
Metta, as we all probably would have done in this case, took to Twitter for a half-apology/half-save my ass turn on Sunday night.
World Peace also pointed out via Twitter that Kendrick Perkins may have broken his nose during his time on the floor on Sunday, though it apparently was an inadvertent Serge Ibaka elbow that did the damage. Either way, the dude’s seriously attempting to disarm, here.
It’s an unfortunate situation, all around. As Eric pointed out on Sunday, MWP has made a remarkable turnaround since embracing therapy and prescribed medication, and it’s entirely possible that this incident could have happened to anyone who was stupid enough to flail his arms around following a pretty sweet drive and dunk. That doesn’t take away from the stupidity, though. And even if World Peace meant no harm to Harden, or wasn’t trying to cause a row, a moderate punishment will be well deserved.
How the NBA handles this will be interesting. The incident happened during the NBA’s showcase game, a pairing of two of the West’s top teams, with a litany of the game’s best players (though Kevin Durant, Kobe Bryant and Russell Westbrook didn’t shoot exceedingly well), topped off with a clutch performance from Kobe in the final minutes of a second overtime. And yet the focus, throughout, was on Metta World Peace and his supposed return to dirty play.
Sports Radio Interviews pointed out on Monday afternoon that the betting over/under for Artest’s suspension is 7.5 games; the half-game seemingly in tribute to Laker teammate Andrew Bynum’s half-hearted play of late. Even taking the under there, for a half-game, would be bad news for Laker fans — the team is about to “enjoy” its longest stretch of off days during this lockout-shortened season, with three days space between Sunday’s win and its last game of the season in Sacramento on Thursday. This means MWP can’t eat up a series of suspended games in anticipation of the playoffs, and it’s possible that he’ll miss the entire first round of the postseason.
The Lakers are scheduled to face Denver, as things currently stand, in that first round; and the team does match up well with the Nuggets. Also, Bryant and reserve Matt Barnes can ably handle the defensive load that World Peace often provides. Even on a top-heavy team like the Lakers, their limited depth can still afford to lose MWP for a spell.
The worry is that this could be the start of something worse for Metta. If his history is any indication, things don’t usually go terribly for him and get better. He tends to follow one incident with another, worse, incident. For someone who has clearly turned his life around for the better, all one can do is hope that he has the excuse-making out of the way, and that this is merely a blip in a well-intentioned career turnaround.