In what was one of the most randomly violent NBA plays in recent memory, forward Metta World Peace absolutely leveled James Harden during the second quarter of Sunday’s showdown between the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
With slightly less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Peace threw down an impressive jam and was noticeably exuberant about it. Harden, perhaps trying to take some of the luster off the play, stepped in front of him – completely unaware of what was going to happen next.
And then Peace did this:
After the game, Peace apologized profusely for his actions and claimed that the elbow wasn’t thrown at Harden’s head intentionally.
"During that play, I just dunked on Durant and Ibaka. I got real emotional, real excited," World Peace said. "It's unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow. I hope he's OK. The Thunder, they're playing for a championship this year. I really hope he's OK and I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden. It was such a great game. It was unfortunate so much emotion was going on at that time. That's it for today."
He also sent out this tweet:
I just watched the replay again..... Oooo..My celebration of the dunk really was too much... Didn't even see James ..... Omg... Looks bad— Metta WorldPeace (@MettaWorldPeace) April 23, 2012
The league has come out and said that they will announce a decision on Peace’s suspension at some point before the Lakers’ final regular season game of the year. The general consensus seems to be that five to ten games would be fair.
This was probably the best take on it:
I think five games is reasonable. I think six is acceptable. Seven's excessive. 3 is a joke.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 22, 2012
As a point of reference: earlier in the year, Minnesota Timberwolves big man Kevin Love stepped on a guy’s face. He was suspended two games for that.
Make of that what you will.
Note: Hopefully this incident, even though it's clearly very serious, doesn't take away from all the work Peace has done for mental health awareness over the last few years. Just by shining a light on mood disorders, he's also indirectly opened people's eyes to stuff like adlerian therapy, amitriptyline, somatoform disorder and other things of that sort. For more information on mental conditions and ways to treat them, check out psyweb.com.