The Los Angeles Lakers’ Metta World Peace, was given a 7-game suspension for his vicious, but what he calls unintentional, elbow to the head of Oklahoma City Thunder player James Harden in Sunday’s game played at Staples Center and won by the Lakers 114-106 in double overtime. Harden, OKC’s top reserve, suffered a concussion as a result of the blow.
The 7-game suspension will keep the Lakers’ starting small forward sidelined for most of the first postseason round which will hurt the team immensely because of the way World Peace had been playing lately. What’s also hurting is World Peace’s wallet. He’s going to lose a lot of money.
The former Ron Artest claimed the blow was an accidental, overzealous celebration of a dunk, yet even Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates weren’t defending his inexplicable actions.
“It’s hard to get into a guy’s head and know exactly what happened in that situation,” Bryant said. “I haven’t really spoken to him about it. You’ve really got to ask him.”
World Peace will miss the Lakers’ season finale on Thursday at Sacramento and the Lakers’ next six games. The playoffs open Saturday, and Los Angeles is likely to be the Western Conference’s third seed — and Oklahoma City is locked into the No. 2 seed, meaning the clubs could meet right after World Peace’s suspension ends in the second round.
He will lose nearly $348,000 in salary if he serves the entire suspension this year. If the Lakers exit the playoffs swiftly, the remainder of the suspension must be served next season.
World Peace still hasn’t answered media questions about his actions, but he issued a brief statement on his website, promising to follow up with a podcast.
“I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization,” World Peace wrote on ronartest.com. “I look foward (sic) to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers fans.”
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