The NBA finally ruled on Metta World Peace’s unsportsman-like conduct over the weekend during the Lakers’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, announcing that the forward has been given a seven-game suspension.
The league announced Tuesday (April 24) that World Peace (aka Ron Artest) was suspended for throwing a vicious elbow at the Thunder’s James Harden, which will keep the forward out of the Lakers line-up for, at least, the first round of the post-season.
If you’ve been under a rock, or don’t keep up with the NBA, World Peace was ejected from Sunday’s (April 22) game against the Thunder after striking Harden in the head with the back of his elbow, giving guard a concussion.
He later called the blow inadvertent, claiming it was just part of an overzealous celebration of a dunk. He also claimed that replays made it look more serious than it was, but still offered an apology.
“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.
The suspension begins immediately. World Peace will miss the Lakers’ season finale on Thursday (April 26) at Sacramento and the Lakers’ next six games. The playoffs open Saturday (April 28), and Los Angeles is likely to be the Western Conference’s third seed — and Oklahoma City is locked into the #2 seed, meaning the clubs could meet right after World Peace’s suspension ends in the second round.
According to ESPN.com, he’ll lose nearly $348,000 in salary if he serves the entire suspension this year. But, if the Lakers exit the playoffs early, the remainder of the suspension must be served next season.
Although Harden appears to be recovering well, he hasn’t been cleared to return to the Thunder.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team accepted the latest suspension.
“His most recent lapse in judgment is not to be condoned or accepted,” he said, after praising World Peace as largely a model citizen with the Lakers. “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.”