It is official now. Metta World Peace has been suspended for 7 games for hitting James Harden with an elbow during the Lakers-Thunder match.
Many of the people who were all out ranting against MWP for his flagrant foul would be obviously thinking that David Stern has let MWP off lightly. In fact the NBA commissioner, David Stern, should be commended for not listening to the media buzz created after the incident, where some even demanded an indefinite ban for MWP. But missing 7 games which includes 6 games of Round 1 of playoffs isn’t as light as it is made out to be. It also seems harsh when compared to a more brutal act committed by Minnesota’s Kevin Love when he stepped on the face of Houston Rockets forward Louis Scola.
There are two kinds of fouls. Flagrant 1 foul is committed when a player unintentionally commits a foul during the play. Flagrant 2 foul, more serious and which levies higher penalty, is imposed on a player when the foul is based on the clear intention of hurting the other player physically.
During Timberwolves and Rockets match earlier this season, Kevin Love stepped on the face of Louis Scola for which he was given a 2-game suspension. If not the nature of the foul but the intention of the player who committed the foul, as proclaimed while offering the suspensions, were the same. Both were alleged of intentionally hurting the other player. So why has MWP been suspended for 5 more games than Love?
A part of the answer could be attributed to the previous persona of MWP, when he was called Ron Artest. He is, after all, the player who holds the record for being suspended for the maximum number (86) of matches in the league.
But in his stint with Lakers he has redeemed himself. He became actively involved in charities and social causes. There are very few people who would give away their only NBA ring for the cause of charity. So, we can safely say that at least this incident was a one-off event by MWP and his notorious side is not back on the court.
Another answer to the question posed above can be attributed to the extent of injury suffered by James Harden. No doubt that an elbow from a 6 ft 7 in player can cause serious problems. The concussions suffered by James Harden are not to be taken lightly.
But as proclaimed by MWP, the act was not at all intentional. He was pumped after scoring a huge dunk over the opposition. When he was celebrating it, Harden came on his way and was hit by MWP’s elbow. He also released an official sincere apology from his Twitter account. One cannot imagine ‘Ron Artest’ issuing such an act of repentance.
So, the 7-game suspension meted out to MWP is a little severe, if not justified. Hope MWP learns from his suspension and also controls his emotions in the future.
What is more disturbing is the prospect of the Lakers in the absence of MWP. MWP started playing well and for once it looked like the small forward position of Lakers had been taken care of. But in his absence, it would be interesting to see how the Lakers cope with the demands of the play-offs.