With the Los Angeles Lakers given three days off between Sunday afternoon’s win over the Oklahoma City Thunder and the team’s season finale in Sacramento on Thursday night, the NBA could afford to take its time in determining just how long to suspend Metta World Peace for, following his frightening elbow to the head of OKC guard James Harden. Though MWP had apologized, via Twitter, and spoke with the NBA on Monday night, otherwise he was laying low; even canceling a scheduled appearance on TBS’ “Conan” on Tuesday night.
And now, with their studies complete, the league has laid down the hammer. World Peace will be suspended for seven games, including Thursday night’s game against the Kings, and however many games the Lakers play in a postseason that starts this weekend. In the unlikely event that Los Angeles is dropped from the playoffs in five games or less (the team is scheduled to play the Denver Nuggets in the first round), World Peace’s suspension will carry over until the 2012-13 season.
In all, considering World Peace’s history (he was suspended for nearly the entire 2004-05 season after his pivotal role in the ugly ‘Malice at the Palace,’ and has been the instigator in several nasty flagrant fouls throughout his 13-year career), the seven game seat (without pay) seems like a welcome number for Lakers fans. All but the team’s most ardent (read: “oblivious”) fans conceded that MWP was due a suspension after the hit, even if his was just a case of “temporary insanity” (as Yahoo! Sports anchor Larry Beil discussed on Monday) and an unfortunate accident caused by a needless bit of posturing from Metta.
Whatever the intent, World Peace was wrong to fling those badass biceps around, and Harden is lucky to escape relatively unharmed (though he will likely sit the team’s remaining two games) with “just” a concussion. It could have been worse, a lot worse, and even though we don’t think World Peace meant to shed Harden like he did, he had to be punished for the reckless behavior. And, frankly, Harden’s injuries shouldn’t have had any impact on the suspension.
Various betting outlets put the over/under on World Peace’s suspension at 7.5, so if you took the under you’re still a weirdo for betting on such a strange thing. Other notable, non-’Malice at the Palace’ related suspensions of recent vintage include Dennis Rodman’s 11-game sitdown for kicking a cameraman in 1997, a five-game suspension for D-Rod following his headbutt of referee Ted Bernhardt in 1996, and Andrew Bynum’s five game penalty for barreling into Dallas guard Jose Juan Barea in last May’s playoffs.
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The terms of the suspension will force Metta World Peace not only to miss the next seven games and the loss of pay, but he won’t be allowed in the arena when his Lakers take on the Kings, Nuggets, and possibly the second round opponent. Because the team does boast significant depth at the wing (even if Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes, and Devin Ebanks are all working through injuries), the group should be able to sustain its winning ways in Metta’s absence.
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