by Matt Shetler
After Sunday’s elbow shot heard ’round the world thrown by Los Angeles Lakers forward MettaWorld Peace, the ball is now in NBA commissioner David Stern’s court to issue the proper punishment.
Given his history as Ron Artest, all the name changes in the world shouldn’t make a difference in changing his image. Stern must do the proper thing and sit Artest down for the postseason.
Nothing else really makes sense.
Suspending him for the Lakers’ final regular-season game on Thursday against Sacramento is meaningless, considering that Mike Brown could opt to rest his starters for the postseason, which ultimately mean that World Peace may not play much to begin with.
That’s not acceptable by any means. The punishment must be for the postseason.
His history must play a role in determining the amount of games missed. If it isn’t taken into account, it’s a joke. Here’s a guy who’s been suspended 13 times during his NBA career and while he’s been on good behavior as of late, you have to look at his past and that includes the brawl at The Palace.
Then there’s the intent.
World Peace, Pau Gasol and everyone else in the Lakers locker room can come to his defense all they want, but they are kidding themselves by saying there was no intent.
What World Peace did was wind up and connect with an elbow to the head of James Harden. There was plenty of intent and World Peace hit his mark like throwing a dart at a bull’s-eye.
Then there was the aftermath, where he was more than ready to fight Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka before cooler heads prevailed.
In terms of World Peace, this has to be frowned upon.
But as for his pending suspension, you also have to take into account the teams and the players involved here as well.
By potentially taking out a major piece of a team that the Lakers could see in the second round, Stern must take that into account. Is it fair to Oklahoma City to have to face a Lakers team with World Peace in the lineup and Harden potentially not at 100 percent?
I think not.
You can’t simply say “whoops” and be given the benefit of the doubt. Stern must hold World Peace accountable for his actions. If you believe that there was no intent, it doesn’t matter. All NBA players need to be held accountable for their actions whether there was intent or not.
That’s the lesson that Stern needs to teach here.
Metta World Peace seems like a decent guy off the court, but he’s gone to that place of rage far too many times in his career.
How are opposing players supposed to feel safe playing against this guy, knowing he can potentially snap and end their career at any moment.
As sad as it is to say, this guy has been handed opportunity after opportunity and has failed to learn his lesson. He needs to wake up and realize you don’t get that many free chances in the real world.
At the end of the day, there’s only one thing that Stern can do and that’s to drop the hammer on Artest.
A postseason ban may seem harsh to some, but realistically it could be a lot longer than that given his history.