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.