When basketball fans hear the name “Ron Artest” they primarily think of “Malice at the Palace,” an incident that occurred in November, 2004 when then Indiana Pacer, Metta World Peace (then Ron Artest), initiated a minor brawl with a Detroit Pistons player with under a minute to go in the game. What ensued was something NBA fans will never forget. World Peace laid down on the scorers table to cool down, and ended up over heating when a fan threw a drink onto him, triggering a rage that led World Peace into the stands of the Palace with teammate Stephen Jackson, and assaulting several fans. The brawl resulted in a 86 game suspension for World Peace (the most in NBA history) and many other punishments handed out to various players and fans…
On Sunday, World Peace brought back old memories of the Malice at the Palace when he elbowed James Harden in the head after a powerful dunk to pull the Lakers within one with 1:40 remaining in the second quarter at the Staples Center. World Peace was ejected immediately as Harden lie lifelessly on the free throw line, holding his head. Perkins rushed over to World Peace to confront him but was held back by the officials so nothing further could ensue. Harden eventually got up and managed to walk off the court on his own. He’s reported to be ok, but was diagnosed with a concussion from the blow.
In the past, Lakers fans have been quick to defend anyone wearing the purple and gold, but even the Laker faithful’s couldn’t help but boo for the apparent cheap shot issued by Peace as the officials ejected him. On the way out, the fans gave a round of applause and a slight cheer as World Peace headed for the locker room. After the game, World Peace tweeted,
“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 World Peace via Twitter
Really though, how many people can believe that coming from a man who has been suspended twelve times in his career and has an outrageous past of; throwing players to the ground, cheap shots, initiating fights on the court, and even starting a round of trash talking with coaches on the sideline? That tweet has its tone of ignorance to it no matter how you read it. After seeing the replay numerous times, it’s hard to read that short response and find sincerity in it by any means. World Peace issued a statement Tuesday, after he was issued a seven game suspension effective immediately:
“I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization. I look forward to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers fans.”—World Peace
It’s hard to tell when an athlete is being sincere in a public comment. The last thing they want is to spark a controversy and receive even more attention than they’re already receiving for whatever may have happened. What if World Peace had said, “I won’t apologize for celebrating, James is the one to blame, he got in the way of my celebration.” Of course, he would never come out and say that to any reporter, his reputation would manage to drop even lower with most than it already has. All he can do is apologize for what happened and hope to be put back in the good graces of the fans that still appreciate him. It’s a standard statement that I’m sure most of us saw coming a mile away, nothing special, nothing drastic. It doesn’t mean all is fine and dandy at the end of the day though… There are still a plethora of fans across the country that hate him, from one fan base to the next in Detroit, now Oklahoma City, and all over the country. You better believe he will receive countless boos for years to come every time he visits “Loud City” for as long as he plays. Stern was quick to address the basketball world as well after the suspension was given to World Peace Tuesday, saying:
“The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area,” Stern said in a statement. “We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.”—David Stern
Stern did refer back to the Palace incident, a reason World Peace’s suspension was seven games, heftier than the five game suspension given to Andrew Bynum in the 2011 Western Conference Finals when he leveled Dallas Maverick’s point guard, J.J. Barea. World Peace’s suspension will start with him missing the final regular season game against the Sacramento Kings Thursday, in Sacramento. From there, World Peace could miss the entire first series of the playoffs, where the Lakers are projected to play the Denver Nuggets. Some say the punishment was too harsh for World Peace; others are severely disappointed in the lack of punishment issued by the league. How would you feel though if your franchise lost a key player for a while due to an unprovoked injury?