It was not calculated. It was intentional. It was excessive. And man, was it brutal.
In the second quarter of the Thunder’s game against Oklahoma City, Ron Artest/Metta World Peace drove for a dunk and slammed it home. He began to celebrate by pounding his head. James Harden wound up behind him. And then…
So that’s going to be the end of the regular season for Ron Artest/Metta World Peace. The question now turns to two questions.
1. What is Harden’s condition? ESPN reported during its telecast that Harden passed all concussion tests and would play, but when he went to the floor, developed a headache and returned to the locker room. He will not return. If further tests reveal a concussion, that could impact Harden’s season significantly. Concussions are an injury we still are struggling to understand and the timing of symptoms is still nebulous.
2. How many games will Artest/MWP get for this? This opens up a Pandora’s Box of issues with regards to the play, Artest’s intent, and his past history. People will want to say that Artest’s history should not render as a factor here. That’s a nice thought, and impossible. It presents a disturbing event in a long history of events, regardless of his positive changes over the past four years. The suspension will almost certainly impact playoff games, it just depends on how many.
The league is likely to render a decision in the next 24 hours.
That’s a play that simply cannot be allowed. “The Punch” on Rudy Tomjanovich by Kermit Washington was an intentional punch but the devastating effects were the result of a bad combination of physics and circumstance. That’s why the league has to protect its players the way it does. And that’s why you’ll see the league respond as it will. This isn’t about the spirit of the game. This is about real-life injuries that can potentially impact lives. Thankfully Harden doesn’t seem to have suffered any long-term, permanent damage.
But this has just become the biggest story in the NBA for all the worst reasons.
Without question, some kneeling/raised fist protests of the National Anthem are coming to the NBA once preseason games start in a couple of weeks. Clippers’ coach Doc Rivers has already come out saying “there’s no more American thing to do than to protest.” Teams are discussing the need for social change.
While the NBA has a rule that players must stand for the anthem, the NBA and players’ union are already discussing exactly how and if that rule should be enforced.
While some players will kneel, Russell Westbrook will not be among them. Probably. Here’s is what he told Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript.
Obviously, Westbrook is leaving himself some wiggle room here. Also, if there is one NBA star you can expect to be blunt about the situation when talking to the media, it’s Westbrook (when he feels like opening up to the media, anyway).
I expect few if any of the NBA’s top stars — the guys with the biggest international brands — will join the protests. However, there certainly will be players taking part. For a league that sees itself as progressive — and has a more politically progressive fan base compared to other American sports — how the league handles this will be watched.
Tributes have poured in all over the NBA world since Kevin Garnett announced his retirement on Friday afternoon — from other players, commissioner Adam Silver and media members who covered him. Garnett and Tom Thibodeau have a lengthy history together: Thibodeau coached Garnett in Boston as an assistant under Doc Rivers, and they won a championship in 2008. This spring, Thibodeau took over as head coach and president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team that drafted Garnett, saw his best years and saw him end his career. Thibodeau released a heartfelt statement on Saturday congratulating Garnett:
“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and thank Kevin for all of his great accomplishments and contributions to the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, and for me personally with the Boston Celtics. Kevin combined great talent with a relentless drive and intelligence. I will always cherish the memories of the way in which he led the Celtics to the 2008 NBA Championship. His willingness to sacrifice and his unselfishness led us to that title. Kevin will always be remembered for the way in which he played the game. His fierce competitiveness, his unequalled passion for the game, and the many ways in which he cared about this team was truly special. KG is without question the all-time best player to wear a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey, and he is also one of the best to ever play this game.”
It’s a shame that Thibodeau didn’t get to coach Garnett again in Minnesota, but the team is in good hands with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Indiana Pacers have been a franchise for 50 years — 10 in the ABA and 40 in the NBA. To celebrate this anniversary, they’ve unveiled a new patch that they will wear on their uniforms this season. You can check it out below:
It looks pretty sleek, combining the Pacers’ logo with the zero in “50.” It’s subtle and well-designed.
This summer, three of this generation’s defining NBA players, and three of the greatest players of all time, called it a career: Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The latter two in particular had a lot in common, as psychotic competitors and polarizing personalities. They had many memorable battles over the years, including the Lakers-Celtics Finals in 2008 and 2010 (they each won one) and the playoffs in 2003 and 2004, when Garnett was in Minnesota. On Saturday afternoon, a day after Garnett officially announced his retirement, Kobe paid tribute to him with a tweet.
The next time they’ll be together is 2021, when they go into the Hall of Fame together.