Metta World Peace’s elbow to Oklahoma City Thunder swingman James Harden has led to a seven-game suspension, meaning the Lakers will have to start their pursuit of another NBA title without his services.
It will be the tenth suspension in the last 10 years for the man formerly known as Ron Artest. The suspension will force World Peace to sit out the Lakers season finale on Thursday, plus six games into the first round of the playoffs.
Apparently, the name change didn’t work.
The Lakers released a statement saying they accept the league’s decision and will support World Peace and work with him on his professionalism on the court. But they did acknowledge that the unprovoked elbow strike that led to the suspension will hurt the team on the court.
“Metta has for the most part been a model citizen both on and off the court since joining the Lakers,” the team said.
“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.”
The incident occurred just before halftime on Sunday when Artest threw an elbow at Harden, while the Lakers troublemaker was in the midst of a chest-pumping celebration following his slam dunk.
Harden fell to the floor and the doctors later revealed that he suffered a concussion.
Said NBA Commissioner David Stern: “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 players with a history of on-court altercations.”