Los Angeles Lakers player Metta World Peace is facing a suspension from the NBA for elbowing James Harden in the head.
Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, was pounding his chest with his right arm in celebration of a dunk over two opponents Sunday when his left arm suddenly flew out, landing a vicious backward elbow to James Harden’s head and dropping the Oklahoma City Thunder guard to the hardwood floor.
Within seconds, crowd cheers stopped while they watch in disbelief that the old violence of Ron Artest was returning, even though he had changed his name last year to promote peace.
He competed in “Dancing with the Stars” last season to help promote a more positive image for himself too.
Metta World Peace is likely to be sidelined when the Lakers open the postseason this weekend, and possibly longer. He claims he accidentally clipped Harden while celebrating a dunk, but his history of bipolar disorder and violence raises questions.
“It was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow,” World Peace said. “I hope he’s OK.”
His upcoming suspension will be just a fraction of the 86-game ban Artest received in November 2004 when he jumped into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills to fight fans, precipitating perhaps the ugliest brawl in North American sports history.
Metta World Peace said in a 30-second statement afterward to Sports Illustrated and others, refusing to take questions in the Lakers’ locker room: “During that play, I just dunked on (Kevin) Durant and (Serge) Ibaka, and I got really emotional and excited.
“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.”
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The prolific tweeter gave a bit more insight about the elbow later that night.
“I just watched the replay again,” World Peace tweeted. “Oooo.. My celebration of the dunk really was too much… Didn’t even see James ….. Omg… Looks bad.”
Kobe Bryant defended Metta World Peace at a press conference: “One play in the heat of a battle, all of the sudden it changes his perception as a man and as a person? No. Everybody, all you guys, know what a sweet guy he is.”
Video of Metta World Peace elbowing James Harden:
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