If you watched the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday (April 22), then you witnessed the flagrant foul 2 call on Metta World Peace, after he hit OKC’s guard James Harden … causing controversy which has created backlash and is likely to result in his suspension.
At 1:45 left to go in the first-half, Lakers center Andrew Bynum blocked a shot from Russell Westbrook, sparking a fast break that ended in World Peace (aka Ron Artest) dunking the ball on the other end. Fired up, the Lakers forward turned around to head back down court when he bumped into a Harden … and delivered a vicious elbow to the side of his head.
Following the incident, Harden fell to the floor and remained there for several minutes while play was stopped as refs separated players and a flagrant 2 determination was made after being reviewed on a video monitor at center court.
Harden left for the game, and it was later determined that he suffered a concussion as a result of the hit from World Peace. His status for the Thunder’s final two regular season games is uncertain, as of press time.
As far as World Peace, he was immediately ejected … and multi-game suspension is expected. However, a ruling was not made as of press time.
He issued a statement to reporters in the locker room after the game, and later added (via Twitter) that the elbow was inadvertent and only a result of his chest-thumping celebration motion.
“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.”
“Hope James Hardin is ok…,” World Peace later added on Twitter (@MettaWorldPeace). “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 added.
Harden did not address media after the game. But, he now faces a rigorous process before he can return to action under the NBA’s recently instituted concussion policy.
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.