To start off, I cannot put into words the stupidity I feel when referring to Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest as Metta World Peace. I’m well aware of the gesture he was trying to make when he legally changed his name before the beginning of the 2011 NBA season, but it’s just ridiculous. It makes Chad Johnson’s move to Chad Ochocinco look sane and that’s a pitiful statement in itself.
After watching Artest (I refuse to call him by his ignorant legal name) elbow Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden in the head after a dunk in the second quarter of their game on Sunday, it’s obvious his name means nothing to him, even though he made sure to note it marked a change in his life when he made the switch.
Aside from the sheer irony of his name being “World Peace” and his violent nature, Artest should be suspended for the remainder of the 2012 NBA season, including the playoffs, without question. As Rant Sports columnist Michael Collins pointed out yesterday, he’s a repeat offender and he has displayed bizarre, violent outbursts in the past that almost make him a danger to everyone around him.
Regardless of these facts, this most recent incident embodies both adjectives used to describe Artest as a person – bizarre and violent. He made a great dunk on the fast break against the Thunder and gave his team momentum heading into the final minute of the first half. Instead of celebrating like any normal player would, Artest gave Harden a concussion and then tried to fight Thunder forward Serge Ibaka after the incident.
You’re blind, senseless or both if you truly believe Artest’s shot to Harden’s head was unintentional. His left hand and shoulder touched Harden’s chest well before his arm went up to make the “move,” so he knew that Harden was there. And who throws an elbow “at no one” in celebration? The fist bump isn’t out of style and only someone as strange as Artest would throw an elbow at no one. However, this elbow wasn’t at no one – it was at Harden and everyone knows that. Lakers fans should be embarrassed and even ashamed of such an act of ignorant violence.
Still not convinced? Artest didn’t turn around to see what his elbow hit so hard that it gave another human a concussion. It you stump your toe, you immediately look down to see what caused the injury. Artest continued running down the floor and then looked up in disgust when the whistles blew. He knew what he had done and was upset he got caught. Of course, how unaware does one have to be to think something like that would go unnoticed on national television?
If Artest had truly hit Harden unintentionally, he wouldn’t have been trying to fight Ibaka after the incident. People who cause accidents apologize immediately and try to make their innocence known. Artest knew exactly what he had purposely done and tried to look “tough” by pumping his fists at Ibaka.
To make matters worse for the team, Lakers coach Mike Brown gave Artest a high-five on the sideline after he had been ejected, showing absolutely no class whatsoever. I truly classy coach would have been in Artest’s face berating him for such ridiculous act. One might argue Brown’s failure to do is due to his fear of Artest, which is all the more reason why the player should at least be suspended for the reminder of the season.
ESPN/ABC play-by-play announcer said it perfectly when he called Artet’s hit “disgraceful” and then went on to say again “what a disgrace.” This is the second year in a row a Lakers player has done something like this without facing any true consequences.
The Lakers were swept by the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks last year in the Western Conference Semifinals. In Game 4 of that series, Lakers center Andrew Bynum knocked Mavericks guard J.J. Barea to the floor with an elbow to the ribs as Barea went up for a layup. Dallas led the game by 30 at home with a little over eight minutes to play and Bynum simply took out his frustration on Barea.
The move was disgusting and it showed the true side of this generation of Lakers, which was only seen when the team was eliminated before the NBA Finals. When Los Angeles was winning titles left and right, everyone couldn’t say enough about the NBA’s model franchise, one that was as classy as it was talented.
Former Lakers guard Magic Johnson said at halftime of the game, and right after Artest’s incident, that it was embarrassing as a former Lakers player and it didn’t embody the franchise he once played for. He’s exactly right; the Lakers of old that indeed were a model franchise in the NBA are no more and this generation of Los Angeles’ more popular team are not of the same mindset.
True blue, old-fashioned Lakers players would have been all over Artest for such an act instead of arguing with officials about his ejection and mouthing to opposing players the way many current Lakers players did on Sunday afternoon.
For the good of the Lakers’ organization and the league as a whole, the NBA should suspend Artest indefinitely. Allowing his reckless behavior to continue with no sense of remorse is bad for basketball and the Lakers will never return to being the proud franchise they once were. The entire situation is sad and will only get worse unless Artest is justifiably punished. World Peace…indeed.