UPDATE 10:06 pm: Metta World Peace issued his own statement on his Web site (coincidentally named RonArtest.com):
“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.”
7:59 pm: The NBA came down fairly hard on Metta World Peace — not as hard as some had hoped, but more than fellow Laker Andrew Bynum got for laying out J.J. Barea in the playoffs — with a seven game suspension for his deliberate elbow to the head of James Harden of the Thunder Sunday.
The Lakers have one game left in the regular season (Thursday against the Kings) so this means World Peace will sit the first six Lakers playoff games. That likely means the entire first round and could go into the second round if the Lakers advance.
“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,” NBA Commissioner David Stern said. “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.”
“Metta has for the most part been a model citizen both on and off the court since joining the Lakers,” said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak in a released statement. “Still, his most recent lapse in judgement is not to be condoned or accepted. His actions could have seriously injured another player, and his absence during this suspension will hurt our team as well. While we accept the league’s decision, we will will be supportive of Metta and try to help him be more professional on the court.”
For comparison, Bynum got five games for his hit on J.J. Barea in the playoffs and Delonte West got 10 games for his weapons charges away from the game. The longest recent suspension was to Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton for bringing weapons into the Wizards locker room.
Harden has not yet been cleared to play following concussion symptoms and is out for the Thunder Tuesday night. However, he is expected to be able to play in the playoffs starting this weekend.
DeMarre Carroll: Jae Crowder’s Raptors criticism due to playoff naïveté
“It’s a comment from a person who hasn’t really been in the playoffs that much. That’s how I reacted to that type of comment. When you haven’t been on that level and you don’t understand what it takes to get to that level. Myself going to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals, I understand what it takes,”Carroll said on SportsNet.ca. “It’s a comment from a guy who hasn’t been on that level, who hasn’t played on that level. It sounds like a young comment.”
“We’ll let Jae Crowder do all the talking,” Carroll said. “We’ll just fly under the radar and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Carroll is right. Crowder has never won a playoff series — though I’m not sure advancing in the postseason will make him any less brash.
Carroll’s credentials here also aren’t impeccable. He helped the Hawks in 2015 and Raptors in 2016 make relatively uninspiring runs to the Eastern Conference finals.
Still, that’s more than Crowder has accomplished. If Carroll wants to use that experience to shoot back at Crowder, more power to him.
For what it’s worth, I’ll take the Celtics over the Raptors next season — though Toronto is close enough that Boston shouldn’t look past its neighbor to the north.
Luis Scola to carry Argentina’s flag in Olympic opening ceremony
In a poignant address, Golden State Warriors president and chief operating officer Rick Welts, 63, who is openly gay, explained his meaningful and lifelong affiliation with the NBA and told league owners he didn’t feel comfortable attending the All-Star Game in Charlotte if the law remained as is.
He then said if the All-Star Game remained in Charlotte, he wouldn’t feel comfortable attending, and he said he has spoken to employees in the LBGT community from half of the league’s teams who didn’t feel comfortable attending either.
Another influence on the NBA owners: A number of NBA sponsor/partner businesses have told the league they would not be involved if the game remained in North Carolina.
This isn’t so much about a moral stance or punishing North Carolina. It obviously isn’t about punishing Louisiana.
It’s about treating employees and customers with respect.
Putting valued employees in uncomfortable positions is bad business. Holding All-Star Weekend in North Carolina would have done that. Maybe Welts and those he spoke with wouldn’t immediately quit in protest, but why should the league put them in such harsh work conditions? Imagine being forced to choose between your job and traveling to a place you’re denied fundamental protection under the law. Welts earned his position for a reason. The NBA should make reasonable efforts to retain him and other talent.
The same is true of potential customers, some of whom would have been reluctant to attend All-Star Weekend in North Carolina for the same reasons. Maybe the NBA still would have sold out every event, but it’s not worth alienating a portion of the fanbase. (Though the league’s decision inevitably alienated some fans on the other side of the issue. There is some moralism at play here.)
Maybe Louisiana will eventually succeed in its lawsuit and enact its own anti-LGBT laws. But right now, New Orleans doesn’t legally discriminate against the LGBT community. That makes it an acceptable place to host the All-Star game.
This isn’t about sending a message. It’s about finding a location people like Welts — people the NBA value — feel comfortable.