Metta World Peace

Will this be the day the NBA hands down the expected suspension of Metta World Peace for the flagrant-2 foul against James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder this past Sunday? (24 April 2012)

There are all sorts of opinions flying concerning the matter: Ric Bucher says 10 games, John Barry says 2 more than Harden is out, league rulebook says elbows counts as 1-2 games… What’s your guess? I have a friend who is a former coach at the high school level who thinks he should be banned from ever playing in the league again! I think Mike North feels similarly, although his rationale seems beyond my ears to accept – from the streets, blah, blah, blah…

But I did “tweet” to the one guy I probably respect the opinion of more than any other, Coach Dave Miller, and his reply to my comment was: “It doesn’t matter!” So, I have to re-consider the validity of my own subjective opinion. However, I was left with a new thought as I drove to work today thanks to the ESPN710 guys at this time of day: Max Kellerman & Mychal Thompson. Mychal is also opposed – radically! – from my thoughts on the matter, but Max is not…

I find it hard to believe anybody in such a euphoric moment can be brought down to such a violent act of aggression without provocation, within the next 2 seconds: I think James Harden was trash-talking, mouthing off, in his path (in the way), purposely, and baited World Peace into what then happened. It does not in any way take away from the responsibility of the NBA to suspend Metta World Peace for 5 games AND Ron Artest for 5 games, but as fans I believe we have a right to hear the audio exchange if there is one available – because, to us (not the league) it does matter! Yes, there is personal integrity, personal responsibility, even team “accountability” – and it is these things that are significant as “Coach” & A Martinez discussed on Monday evening’s show (filling in for the immortal Steven A. Smith) admirably – better?

Whay is such significant? Because it matters to how we raise our kids! Do we tell them “eye for an eye” is okay, don’t allow yourself to be bullied? Or do we tell them to “turn the other cheek,” and let the proper authorities handle “it”? Yes, MWP needs to be punished – just like the guy who locked me into a closet during a junior high assembly and got into a fight with another student over it! They both were suspended, the one guy expelled – repeat offender issues. That seems to be the argument here: How many chances does the league continue to give to Metta World Peace and Ron Artest?

I get it: The player’s union is in a bad spot with Derek Fisher as a former teammate in a position to act as an advocate for MWP when he is now playing for the opposing team involved in the incident. Talk about a rock & a hard place! The NBA league office is in a similar dilemna due to corportae sponsorship, legal liability, future court cases involving claims for damages in such cases where violence was condoned, overlooked, etc.

However, the progress Ron Artest was making to distance himself from “The Malice at The Palace” which led him to change his name to Metta World Peace to signal that he is beyond all that needs to be taken into consideration as well. He is bipolar, and as such he should be questioned whether he is taking proper doses of medication (i.e., Delonte West, others). That should be taken into account. Why? Because there wasn’t any pre-meditation, there wasn’t an intentional act: it was a eiphoric moment, high adrenalin play that was prevented from being allowed to become a celebration by an opposing player and it seems he was upset (imho) about not being able to celebrate the dunk by a guy who wasn’t willing to backoff. And there you have it: an explosion of wills, a battle of a hill. The Thunder almost won the war, probably would have, if Harden was able to continue. But it is what it is.

It’s unfortunate that Metta World Peace wasn’t able to keep himself from hurting an opposing player; he screwed up. Should he be banned from the game? No. Suspended? Yes. Harshly? It’s going to have to be in keeping with Dwyane Wade vs. Rip Hamilton, Lopez strangling Blake Griffin, and on and on… Doesn’t it? Does Bruce Bowen have a right to an opinion when he is regarded by Matt Barnes and Ray Allen (and likely countless others!) as the dirtiest player to have ever played the game?

Is this incident being blown out of proportion? Maybe not. Whatever happens, it’s for the league to decide: But how will we as fans respond to it? The delay by the league to make a ruling is understandable because of the predicament they are in to explain the avenue they chose to take in determining proper punishment. As a Lakers fan, I hope he is still available to us on our roster throughout the playoffs. Is that likely? Probably not.

I am praying for Metta World Peace, and similarly, I wish the story taking center stage was the thankfulness we the fans have for Coach Mike Brown getting Jordan Hill some much needed playing time before the start of the playoffs! What’s the proper perspective for a fan of the Lakers? To be supportive. What’s the proper perspective for a non-fan? I have no idea.

Here is a reaction from the OKC perspective when the ruling came down.

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  1. runsvold
    24 April 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Okay, so MWP suspended 7 games: tolerable. Some may think too many, others not enough. It is what it is; at least Lakers can plan off of it: maybe take 6 games to win 1st round? (6 games + 1 regular season game vs. SAC left = 7 games, MWP available start of 2nd round – against OKC ???). SEE L.A. Times article for expanded rationale: http://www.latimes.com/sports/lakersnow/la-sp-ln-metta-world-peace-suspended-20120424,0,5940764.story

    ——————————–

    In the body of that L.A. Times article it’s stated very strongly in words that neither the NBA or the Lakers could really say any differently (imho):

    ——————————–

    “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,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement about World Peace’s suspension. “We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”

    And Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak after the suspension issued a statement:

    “Metta has for the most part 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. His actions could have seriously injured another player, and his absence during this suspension will hurt our team as well. While we accept the league’s decision, we will be supportive of Metta and try to help him be more professional on the court.”

    ——————————–

    That last statement I wish was mine, because forward-thinking what’s best for all parties involved is really the only avenue to take: To be more tolerant or less tolerant would not send the right message. So, we can move forward: great! Go, Lakers!

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