Over a year ago Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers changed his name to Metta World Peace in an attempt to promote peace throughout the world. The move sparked a tidal wave of mocking and laughter throughout the country, but the underlining feeling behind the change was nothing to joke about.
Metta, meaning a benevolence to all people and world peace, would be the result of said metta if followed by all. That's what Artest was promoting with the name change. And that's what got thrown out the window with one action on Sunday night,
Late in the second quarter of an important game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night, Metta World Peace reverted back to Ron Artest of old for an instant, and forever showed his new name to be nothing but lies.
With 1:39 left before half, 'World Peace' slammed down a huge dunk, bringing the Lakers back to within one point. As he was making his way back up-court, banging his chest and basking in his dunk, Oklahoma's James Hardin backed up lightly into him. That slight touch caused World Peace to react with a hard elbow to the back of Harden's head, an elbow that caused a concussion and took Harden out of the game.
The elbow, from the referee's perspective, was blatant enough to warrant a flagrant-2 determination and an ejection for World Peace. It's also probably going to be blatant enough to warrant yet another suspension for him.
For his part though, Metta World Peace was apologetic after the fact and sticks to his story that it was just an unintentional accident and that there was no malice involved.
"During that play I just dunked on (Kevin) Durant and (Serge) Ibaka and I got really emotional and excited and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow," World Peace said. "I hope he's OK. The Thunder, they're playing for a championship this year, so I hope that he's OK and I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden.
"You know, it was such a great game and it was unfortunate so much emotion was going on at that time. … That's it for today."
Later that night, World Peace would take to twitter with a less scripted response to the situation.
"Hope James Hardin (sic) is ok…," World Peace wrote. "I remember when I hit by Marc Gasol the same way.. I was spitting up blood and a headache during the game…"
"I just watched the replay again….. Oooo.. My celebration of the dunk really was too much… Didn't even see James ….. Omg… Looks bad," he tweeted.
For the Thunder's part, they aren't buying the accident line that World Peace is trying to sell. They believe the elbow was intentional, as at that time World Peace was very pumped up and just looking for a fight.
"I saw it happened and it was a very hard hit," Ibaka said. " … That's the first I've seen anything like that happen live. I was surprised. I went up to him to ask him why he did that and he wanted to fight me too. I don't know what he was thinking. I have no idea."
This elbow, for World Peace, is for sure to bring about yet another suspension and missed games for the Lakers star. For his career, he has had 13 suspensions and has missed a total of 111 games because of them.
Though the Lakers would eventually go on to win the game in dramatic fashion–a 114-106 double overtime victory–the inevitable loss of World Peace to suspension with just one regular season game remaining could prove costly for the team in the first round of the playoffs.
"Metta's been extremely important to us on both ends of the floor," Brown said. World Peace came into Sunday averaging 14.2 points on 47.8 percent shooting in 12 games in April, both well above his season averages. "It'd be a big blow to us (if he is suspended) … We need him on the floor as much as possible."
Harden, for his part, now has to deal with a concussion with the post season fast approaching and that means undergoing the rigorous reinstatement process the NBA requires for concussion victims.
A player diagnosed with a concussion must complete a series of steps to confirm that he's healthy enough for competition. Once he is symptom free, the player must make it through increasing stages of exertion — from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills — while ensuring the symptoms don't return after each one.
Hopefully he can make it back in time for the Thunder's first round matchup and hopefully, Hardin will receive justice with a hefty suspension to the player formerly known as Ron Artest.
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