The NBA has decided what the punishment should be for Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace, suspending him for seven games without pay for landing a vicious elbow to the back of the head of Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden during Sunday’s game in Los Angeles. In essence, World Peace will be suspended for the first round of the upcoming NBA Playoffs, which could turn out to be the rest of the season depending on how the Lakers do in the postseason. When people were asked what the punishment should be for World Peace, the majority wanted the suspension to be real severe, as in for the rest of the season and carry over into next season. I think this is a fair punishment, but if it turned out to be worse, I wouldn’t have been outraged. The truth is World Peace had everything stacked against him when it came to determining how rough this penalty should be. First off, the tape doesn’t lie. The elbow that connected with Harden’s head was clearly intentional, although World Peace said that it was accidental. Two, we’re talking about a man who has been suspended 13 times in his career, including the the unprecedented suspension for his role in the “Malice in the Palace” back in the ’04-’05 season as a member of the Indiana Pacers. That would put World Peace in the repeat offender category. Three, I know that many people think that the effect of the incident shouldn’t come into play when it comes to determining how severe a punishment should be. The fact is that the injury wouldn’t have occurred had it not been for that incident and in this case, it could effect the chances of the Thunder doing damage in the playoffs. Four, the main emphasis in the major sports leagues nowadays is player safety, especially when it comes to head and neck injuries. Seeing how Harden suffered a concussion from World Peace’s elbow, I don’t think commissioner David Stern and other league officials had any other choice but to take that into consideration. When you throw all of those factors into the equation, the odds were stacked against World Peace in every sense. I felt like the punishment might even be worse than what was handed down, but I think this is a fair punishment. I want to throw this out there. When I saw the incident live, I honestly wanted to believe that the elbow was accidental (even though I knew it wasn’t). The slow motion replay just confirmed my first thoughts. I know that World Peace has been a guy who has had mental problems and has issues controlling his anger, but it seemed like he was turning the corner when it came to that aspect of his life. Before this incident, he has done a great job of staying out of trouble on and off the court. He won the NBA Citizenship Award last season and he gives to numerous charities during his time away from the court. This is a terrible setback for a man who has worked so hard in trying to repair his image. I hope World Peace can recover from this and I would like to think this was an isolated incident instead of a preview of things to come. I do root for World Peace because he is a good player when he comes to play, along with the reasons listed above. He was having a great game on Sunday before the incident. Hopefully World Peace can learn from this, because chances are running out for him.
By Charles Taylor