HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The one thing the sports world didn’t need was another day to watch, analyze and then suffer through the collective paralysis of analysis of the film of Lakers forward Metta World Peace‘s wicked elbow to the side of Thunder forward James Harden‘s head from Sunday afternoon.
But it doesn’t really matter how many times you watch it, how many different interpretations there are of it and how many different ways World Peace tries to explain away the lick he passed as both “unfortunate” and “unintentional.”
The video evidence, and World Peace’s extensive history of incidents as Ron Artest, will make it extremely tough for the league’s judge and jury to show leniency for a player who has straddled the line between having and losing control many times before. Even though it did not come by late Monday night, there is little doubt that a suspension of some sort is on the way in next 24 hours.
And at this stage, it’s really only a matter of how severe a penalty it will be for World Peace and the Lakers, whose regular season finale is Thursday night in Sacramento. While the reaction from folks on both sides of this issue was as immediate (thanks to Twitter and other social networking sites) as it was passionate, discipline for World Peace will have to wait until the league doles it out.
Using the Lakers’ last such incident as a guideline, it would seem that World Peace is in line for at least something along the lines of the five-game suspension Lakers center Andrew Bynum received for his mid-air knockdown of Mavericks guard J.J. Barea in the Western Conference semifinals last year.
But, as one prominent agent explained it, that does not mean the league is limited to game penalties in dealing with World Peace. The league is perfectly within its right to fine him an unspecified dollar amount on top of the games he would be forced to sit out, without pay. For a player who has already missed 111 games due to 13 previous suspensions and lost millions in related fines and penalties, this latest incident is a sobering reminder of a place he probably did not intend on revisiting after a relatively incident-free past couple of years.
“I would think at least five games and anywhere from 5 to 10 games,” the agent said. “I thought it was definitely an egregious act and a totally over the top move. It wasn’t a basketball play. There wasn’t a basketball involved at all. Bynum got five for knocking Barea out of the air. This was just as bad, in my opinion, if not worse. It wasn’t a basketball play. And it wasn’t a mistake. Harden never even looked at Artest, didn’t have his hands up and never knew that elbow was coming. This wasn’t Harden’s fault.”