World Peace (it's kind of ironic saying that, no?) was suspended Tuesday for a completely vicious and senseless elbow to James Harden Sunday afternoon.
Harden was later diagnosed with a concussion. He missed the rest of Sunday's game, and did not play for the Thunder against the Kings Tuesday, The Washington Post
So, for no reason, World Peace has robbed him teammates of his talents a small forward.
Maybe his absence won't be a factor. The Lakers did fine without Kobe. They may not even miss MWP, but still. This is a guy who won the 2011 Citizenship Award for raising mental illness awareness.
According to ESPN.com
, even Kobe Bryant and World Peace's other Laker teammates were baffled by their teammate's actions.
"It's hard to get into a guy's head and know exactly what happened in that situation," Bryant said. "I haven't really spoken to him about it. You've really got to ask him."
According to The LA Times
, a person close to World Peace says he "respects" the league's punishment.
World Peace issued a statement
on his website saying, "I hope James Harden is ok. I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans, and the OKC organization. I look forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers and the Lakers fans.
In a statement
released by the NBA Tuesday, Commissioner David Stern said "The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area. We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players including the imposition of appropriate penalties for a history of on-court altercations."
That sounds a bit like a personal low blow as World Peace is no stranger to controversy. This is the player's 14th suspension in his 14 year career, Midwest Sports Fans
On May 5, 2011, he was suspended 1 game fore hitting JJ Barea in the face. Poor Barea. He was like a punching bag for the extremely frustrated Lakers during the 2nd round of the playoffs last season.
Most notably (I would think), he was suspended 72 games and the playoffs for fighting with Detroit Pistons fans at the Palace of Auburn Hills on November 20, 2004. The 2004 Defensive Player of The Year got into a scuffle with Pistons center Ben Wallace. A fan threw a diet coke and hit Ron Artest in the chest. Artest went into the stands to find the fan, grabbed the wrong fan...and okay. Yes, it's a crazy story. Ben Wallace was suspended for the incident as well as were Artest's teammates Jermaine Oneal and Stephen Jackson who had also gotten involved in the mess.
Given World Peace's history, I'm not sure how surprised we can really be by his actions Sunday, but disappointed is more than fair. He seemed to change. He was playing well, clicking with his team. Why the violence? Why the elbow? Because he was excited over his very own dunk? He claimed it was an accident, but later took to Twitter to admit it "looks bad."
I remember watching the Lakers post-finals celebration in 2010, Artest was all smiles and gave credit to his therapist for his progress and success. As a Pistons fan, I felt like a traitor for actually being touched by his story. Maybe I was the only one, but I believed at that point that he had changed.
I think the Lakers thought so too, and for the most part, he has. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak issued a statement
saying, "Metta, for the most part, has been a model citizen both on and off the court since joining the Lakers. Still, his most recent lapse in judgment is not to be condoned or accepted."
Lakers coach Mike Brown said Metta told him the elbow was an "excited accident," ESPN
I can't see why it wouldn't have been an accident. World Peace was happy with his performance. Why would he have any reason to hurt someone on purpose? Harden was just an innocent bystander in the whole thing, unfortunately.
We will never truly know World Peace's true intentions. What we do know is that when his suspension is over, World Peace will have to put this entire ordeal behind him and play. And next time he has an awesome dunk, maybe he should try celebrating in a less violent way.